Wandering Bear Returns to New Jersey Neighborhood, Cancels School Recess

Outdoor recess was canceled again Monday at the Theunis Dey Elementary School in Wayne, New Jersey, as a black bear wandered through the neighborhood for the second time in two weeks.

"It was in the middle of the street, walking, nonchalant," said Jessica Boland, who works in the Lionshead Lake section of Wayne. Dozens of other residents spotted the black bear there and promptly called 911.

Police say the bear, believed to be the same one spotted in the area last week, hasn't shown aggressive behavior.

"It's a wandering bear, it's been very calm and just keeps moving on," said Wayne Police Detective Captain Mark McGrath.

Over the weekend, the bear was spotted in the woods surrounding the Toys R Us corporate headquarters and on various blocks around the Pines Lake neighborhood.

Randi London, who lives there with her two young children and two dogs, said they've seen the bear before but aren't afraid of it.

"We are cautious with being outside, but we have a fence and we have animals and they keep us safe," she said.

Police are asking all Wayne residents to keep their garbage in bear-proof containers and to keep pet food indoors.

"The more they find food by people, the more they get comfortable around people and they're not intimidated, they come closer searching for more food," said McGrath.

Residents in nearby Oakland have also seen a mother black bear and her cubs walking near houses.

Many homeowners are taking the bears more seriously after Rutgers senior Darsh Patel was killed in a bear attack in West Milford last Sunday, the first fatal bear attack in New Jersey in at least 150 years.

Since the bear hunt in New Jersey began four years ago, the number of bear nuisance complaints have gone down by 43 percent.

But in 2014, the numbers have been going back up, with a 30 percent increase in bear nuisance calls compared to last year. Biologists are still trying to determine why.

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