By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
At least two bears have been spotted wandering in and around Montclair over the last few weeks.
One was found eating out of a resident’s bird feeders on June 12. Another bigger bear was spotted on Father’s Day wandering through Eagle Rock Reservation.
On June 12, Montclair animal control officer Michele Shiber was called to the area of Nassau Road and Patton Place on a report of a bear ravaging a resident’s bird feeders.
“The bear appeared to be an adolescent who found a quick and easy snack,” Shiber said.
The bear was tracked by the officers for a short while, but it eventually tucked away into some wooded areas and disappeared.
Later that day, animal control officers saw social media reports of a bear near Kip’s Castle, which borders Montclair and Verona. Shiber said it’s possible it was the same bear seen on Nassau Road in Montclair, but it’s hard to be sure, noting the sightings are a few miles apart.
On June 20, Father’s Day, members of the Monaghan family were taking a leisurely drive through Eagle Rock Reservation when they spotted a bear.
“As we were headed uphill from Undercliff [Road], less than a quarter mile past where hikers/dog walkers park, our son John sighted this bear,” Susan Monaghan said.
The family pulled over and admired the bear, which was less than 50 feet away from their car, Monaghan said.
Shiber said she didn’t have information about that sighting.
Montclair Township Animal Control urges residents to keep their distance if they see a bear and not to panic. Do not feed the bear or try to take a selfie with it, Shiber said.
“Allow it to go on its way, most likely it is heading back towards a wooded area and is taking a shortcut through some backyards, grabbing a quick bird feeder snack along the way,” she said.
A person who encounters a bear should remain calm, but make the bear aware of the person’s presence by speaking, singing, clapping hands or making other noises, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP says to make sure the bear has an escape route, and to avoid direct eye contact, which may be perceived as a challenge. Don’t run from a bear, but slowly back away, the DEP says.
Residents can report a bear sighting with Montclair’s Animal Control at 862-621-9113 or by calling the Police Department at 973-744-1234.
This story has been revised to reflect an updated account from Michele Shiber.