Woodland farmer says he saw bear

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Note: This was on Savoy Blvd which is the road Pioneer Smelting was on. Basically Chatsworth.

Guy



Woodland farmer says he saw bear


http://www.courierpostonline.com/news/southjersey/m092204b.htm


Woodland farmer says he saw bear

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Unconfirmed rash of reports could indicate a return of species to S.J.

By LAWRENCE HAJNA
Courier-Post Staff
WOODLAND
It was nearing midnight when Sammy Moore III left his house in the Pine Barrens to check for storm flooding at his parents' cranberries bogs.

After throwing boots and rain gear into his pickup truck, Moore heard a strange rustling, then a "very loud snarl," near a bird feeder beneath a tall pine tree.

"Trying to figure out what in tarnation it was," Moore swung his truck around and shined his headlights on the tree. "All this bark was showering down," he recalled this week.

Moore retrieved a flashlight from his house and shined the beam on a large black bear clinging more than halfway up the trunk. Several minutes later, it scrambled back down and crashed through the woods "like a tank."

"I never thought in a million years I'd see a bear down here in the South Jersey Pine Barrens," said Moore, a sixth-generation cranberry and blueberry grower and a section fire warden with the state Forest Fire Service.

The sighting is just one in a rash of sightings over the past two months that seem to confirm that black bears, gone from South Jersey for more than a century, are back.

State officials would not confirm any bears south of Mercer County, but said they have gotten anecdotal reports of bears in South Jersey for the past five years.

The animals are apparently wandering from the northwestern corner of the state, once the last stronghold for New Jersey's black bear population, and now home to between 1,100 and 1,500 bears.

"They follow waterways," said Elaine Makatura, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. "They're finding their way."

The DEP has received scattered reports of bears in Burlington County this year, including sightings in Medford Lakes, Washington Township and near Wharton State Forest, Makatura said.

Bears have become a major problem in North Jersey, entering homes, raiding trash cans, occasionally attacking pets and livestock and causing more than $100,000 in annual property damage.

Under intense pressure to help control the population and quell nuisance complaints (1,308 in 2003), the state held its first bear hunt since 1970 in northwestern New Jersey last December. About 5,500 hunters killed 328 bears.

The state's Fish and Game Council, made up largely of hunters, has approved a second hunt this year, but DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell has withheld starting up the permit program. He is not convinced the population is strong enough to support another season, Makatura said.

Moore, however, wonders if the state isn't secretly relocating bears to the Pine Barrens, explaining that he has heard of a rash of sightings all over the region, from Waterford to Egg Harbor Township.

"It's awful funny that in a couple-week period, there's all these sightings all of a sudden of different bears in different places," he said.

In the mid-1990s, the state proposed relocating bears to the Pine Barrens but scrapped the idea after opposition from farmers and residents.

The morning after his sighting, which occurred about five weeks ago, Moore videotaped large paw prints near the tree and damage to his bird feeder. Long claws are clearly visible in the soft sugar-sand.

"It was a good-size bear. It wasn't a cub or anything like that," Moore said.

He said conservation officers told him to get used to bears, because they are migrating from North Jersey.

Wherever they are coming from, Moore is worried that they could start harming the region's cranberry, blueberry and honey industries and could pose a safety threat to school children who wait for buses on country roads.

Makatura denies that the DEP is relocating bears to South Jersey. She said the DEP has not taken any steps to verify their presence in South Jersey because it has not received any nuisance complaints.

"Black bears do not pose a threat," she said. "They're not aggressive and are more afraid of you than you are of them."

Woodland animal control officer Lynn Giamalis has received more than 10 reports of black bear sightings over the past two months, starting with a woman who saw a bear ambling down desolate Savoy Boulevard, the same street Moore lives on.

A bear also apparently destroyed beehives on woodlands the New Jersey Conservation Foundation purchased last year from former cranberry baron J. Garfield DeMarco. The foundation's Franklin E. Parker Preserve, which is to be formally dedicated Friday, virtually surrounds the crossroads village of Chatsworth at the center of Woodland.

They have gotten into corn residents put out for deer and raided trash cans. One was also seen near a resident's garage, Giamalis said.

Giamalis wonders what precautions to take when the annual Chatsworth Cranberry Festival, with dozens of vendors selling food, honey, baked goods and candles, is held Oct. 16-17.

Giamalis believes at least two adults and a cub are living in the area.

"If they stay on the Conservation Foundation land, which is a lot of ground, they're not going to be a problem," she said. "It's when they start wandering onto land that was not sold to (the foundation), then it's going to be a problem."
 

Boyd

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Ben's Branch, Stephen Creek
Hey, that's pretty cool! :bear: Maybe I won't have to go up to the mountains to get some more bear photos! But Medford Lakes? Why am I skeptical of that?...