O’Scanlon: Bears Hanging out in Monmouth County on Memorial Day Weekend is not “normal behavior”
In response to our report this morning that NJ DEP’s Fish and Wildlife Division told Union Beach Police officials that “We don’t come out on weekends” and “that is not our protocol,” when the UBPD asked for their assistance in tranquilizing and relocating the bear that was shot and killed last night, DEP spokesman Bob Considine said, “the notion that F&W biologist don’t work weekends is ridiculous and offensive.”
Considine said that had the Union Beach situation been Category 1, i.e., the bear was a threat to public safety or property, that Fish and Wildlife biologists would have been on the scene. He said that the situation in Union Beach last night was a Category 3…a bear exhibiting normal behavior and not a nuisance or threat to public safety.
Considine said that F&W advised UBPD that they would not be disposing of the carcass over the weekend. The bear’s body is now stored in a locked dumpster on Union Beach Borough property. “Perhaps something got lost in translation,” he said.
Considine issue the following prepared statement to MMM:
Last night, Division of Fish and Wildlife did advise the Union Beach Police Department to allow a black bear that had been in a residential area to find its way out on its own, to disperse any crowds, to message to residents to remove bird feeders, bring in garbage cans and keep doors closed through a reverse 911 and to euthanize only if they feel someone is in imminent danger, as is the right of any local police department.
These are the instructions the Division of Fish and Wildlife provide to many municipal police departments for residential bear sightings, and is also messaged in bear training sessions that DFW biologists provide to local law enforcement.
In a large majority of cases, black bears do find their way out on their own and extract themselves from residential areas and back into the wild. Case in point, the bear that was euthanized last night, we believe was last tagged in Stillwater Township in Sussex County two years ago. Bears do travel extensively and often they move at night, particularly during this time of year.
Additionally, Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists do not tranquilize bears using chemical mobilization drugs during nighttime hours out of concern for staff safety and public safety.
For more tips on living with black bears, please visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2017/17_0031.htm
On follow up, Considine said that two years ago when the male bear the bear was tranquilized in Stillwater and tagged 9121 on its upper gums, he was was relocated to a location nearby in Sussex County. When informed that some local officials were speculating that NJDEP was relocating bears to Naval Weapons Station Earle in Colts Neck or Middletown, Considine said, “Not true.”
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, whose district includes Union Beach and Middletown, said, “Bears hanging out in Monmouth County on Memorial Day weekend is not normal behavior for us. If DEP is telling us that bears roaming through Monmouth County is the new normal, they need to educate the public on how to interact with bears and train our law enforcement officers and animal control officers on how to deal with the new normal presence of bears. I intend to facilitate that happening quickly.”