PLAINFIELD – A black bear that was seen roaming through a section of the city for about seven hours Thursday was killed by police after the animal turned aggressive and ran directly at a police officer who had tried to distract it by making loud noises.
“I commend the actions of the Plainfield Police Officers on the scene. They displayed patience and bravery while facing a dangerous situation that could have easily ended tragically, and their actions should be applauded,” said Police Director James T. Abney in a statement. “Considering that that area of the city is urban, and there are numerous schools within walking distance, they made a split-second decision that I support wholeheartedly.”
Around 9:15 a.m. Thursday, the bear was spotted in the parking lot of Hubbard Middle School on West 8th Street. Police were able to contain the bear in a rear yard of 504 Grant Ave., which is near the Black United Fund Daycare Center at 510 Grant Ave. New Jersey Fish & Wildlife indicated they would respond, Abney said.
Abney said efforts were made to contain the bear and guide it out of the city and northbound, but the bear stopped in the area of Prescott Place and West 4th Street and again climbed a tree.
Representatives from New Jersey Fish & Wildlife arrived in the area around 1:30 p.m. and discussions began on what to do next when the bear was startled and climbed down from the tree in an aggressive manner and ran directly at a Plainfield police officer who tried to make loud noises to stop and distract the bear.
“When these actions did not have the necessary results, considering the totality of the situation, the safety of the public, and the individuals on scene, the bear was euthanized,” Abney said adding New Jersey Fish & Wildlife took possession of the bear, and the scene was cleared.
According to the New Jersey Fish & Wildlife, black bears are the largest land mammal in the state and their population has been increasing and expanding southward and eastward throughout New Jersey. Black bear sightings have been confirmed in all 21 New Jersey counties.
While black bears tend to be wary of people, New Jersey Fish & Wildlife urges residents not to feed, approach or run from bears or make direct eye contact which may be viewed as a challenge. People are urged to remain calm and back away slowly, make the bear aware a person is there by being loud and using an assertive voice, make yourself look big by waving your arms or a jacket above your head and make sure the bear has an escape route.
According to New Jersey Fish & Wildlife, black bear attacks are extremely rare, but if a black bear does attack, fight back by aiming for the snout or eyes by using a knife, sticks, rocks, binoculars, backpack or kick the bear.
Black bear damage or nuisance behavior should be reported to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 1-877-WARN DEP (1-877-927-6337).
Suzanne Russell is a breaking news reporter for MyCentralJersey.com covering crime, courts and other mayhem. To get unlimited access, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.