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May  10

The Bear is Dead

This just in from the Associated Press: the bear is dead.

IRVINGTON, N.J. (AP) Moments before an animal control officer could subdue it with a tranquilizer gun Wednesday, a 300-pound black bear that had been wandering urban areas of north Jersey reared up on its hind legs and appeared ready to charge police officers, who then killed it with repeated shotgun blasts.

As police officers crouched nearby, seven loud shots rang out and the bear slumped to the ground in the small backyard where it had been cornered after two days of rambling east from the suburbs of Livingston to the inner cities of Newark and Irvington _ some of the most densely populated areas of the state.

The bear shooting came only days after a 225-pound bear was caught in downtown Trenton, prompting state biologists to kill it. It was the first time a bear had been killed as part of the state's no-tolerance policy to bruins in densely populated areas.

The bear killed in Irvington was the second.

Nervous police officers in Irvington had to chase three or four young children from nearby backyards, and were growing more worried that more than 1,000 neighborhood children would soon be walking home from school.

Jim Osorio, a Morristown animal control officer who had been called in to assist, was in position to shoot the bruin with a tranquilizer dart and was preparing to pull the trigger when it reared up on its hind legs and assumed an aggressive position, he said.

``We were going to tranquilize the animal and try to relocate him,'' he said. ``It did not happen that way. I tried to save the animal.''

But when the bear reared up, police had no choice but to kill it, said Osorio, who gave the order to shoot.

May 10, 2006 in Buzz | Permalink


Re: Irvington

I think the bear was looking for that shortcut to Route 78 East to the airport. One way ticket to the Ozarks, please ...

Posted by: Jim | May 10, 2006 3:35:25 PM

Poor baby.

Posted by: Meandtheboys | May 10, 2006 3:40:14 PM

Very sad. A society is judged on how it treats its animals. Sometimes people suck.

Posted by: Miss Martta | May 10, 2006 3:41:38 PM

"A society is judged on how it treats its animals."

by whom?

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 10, 2006 3:44:29 PM

By the world. I know you're not a big animal lover, ROC, but how we treat our *lesser creatures* reflects on us as a society. This bear did not have to die.

Posted by: Miss Martta | May 10, 2006 3:48:10 PM

Very sad. A society is judged on how it treats its animals. Sometimes people suck.

Wait a minute. They tried to take it alive. There was an animal control officer with a tranqulizer gun. He and the police were not only responsible for capturing the bear, but for the safety of the neighborhood children. When the bear reared up, the officer had to make a decision. It is a shame, but better than having an enraged bruin injure (or kill) somebody.

Posted by: Bitpusher | May 10, 2006 3:53:03 PM

I am a big animal lover. But I don't anthropomorphize them.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 10, 2006 3:53:34 PM

I'm not going to make any judgements until I know more about the situation.

Schools are letting out, kids are already in the area. Some concern that the bear might charge, or feel threatened. The dart guy wasn't necessarily in position. If it was in a park, or someplace where the terrain was favorable for waiting out the bear, that's a different story.

Irvington is a crowded, densely populated place, with little room for error.

Posted by: Paul from OB | May 10, 2006 3:57:08 PM

"But I don't anthropomorphize them."

Neither do I. But it was a living thing that feels pain. And it wasn't doing anything wrong, just being a bear.

Posted by: Miss Martta | May 10, 2006 3:57:17 PM

It's hard to say - depends on what the bear's motives were in rearing up and how far it was from anyone else. I personally don't see why the animal control guy couldn't have shot the tranquilizer just as quickly as the bullets were fired if he was all set to pull the trigger. If nothing else, the dart would have distracted the bear so that it didn't attack and then the tranquilizer could have had time to work. If they weren't chasing the poor thing it probably wouldn't have gotten aggressive in the first place.

Posted by: mauigirl52 | May 10, 2006 3:57:29 PM

"A society is judged on how it treats its animals."

Could be true. I, for one, think it obscene to put cats on Dialysis (I actually considered it once) while impoverished children die (in the thousands) of easily treated infection and diarrhea in the third world.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 10, 2006 3:58:03 PM

"It's hard to say - depends on what the bear's motives were in rearing up and how far it was from anyone else."

The bear's "motives"....

Excuse me while I go to bang my head against the dining room table...

Posted by: Right of Center™ | May 10, 2006 3:59:04 PM

ROC, that's the same argument moms have been making for ages..."Eat your food, there are children starving in China" or wherever the starving children du jour happen to be.

I spent $3000 to fix my dog's knee two years ago. I didn't think twice about doing that because she was a member of my family. (Sadly, she got cancer a year later and we lost her - but she had a whole happy year - 7 in dog years - of using her knee!).

Sure, that $3000 would have probably fed starving children for a year or cured them from disease, but it wasn't as if I was going to take that $3000 and send it to those children if I hadn't spent it on my dog, anymore than I could have sent the uneaten food on my plate to China. That doesn't mean I don't also care about impoverished children and I do give to organizations that help them. But it doesn't mean that I shouldn't give a cat dialysis or fix my dog's knee as well. St. Francis cared about animals as well as people. They are all God's creatures if you believe in God. And I don't think he would think much of how we are treating the animals whose habitats we are now encroaching on, thus forcing them into our territory where we then shoot them. It isn't right.

Posted by: mauigirl52 | May 10, 2006 4:11:48 PM

I'm sorry, you're a Repulicon. If you cared about poor children needing dialysis you wouldn't have voted for cuts in medicaid.

Posted by: lasermike026 | May 10, 2006 4:17:15 PM

Irvington. The violence never stops..

Posted by: Stan | May 10, 2006 4:23:54 PM


I think you've banged your head on the table a few too many times.

Do you ever contribute an original thought of your own? You seem to spend most of your blog-time applying a literal interpretation to other's comments and finding fault.

Posted by: todd | May 10, 2006 4:24:23 PM

Miss M, I almost always agree with you when it comes to animals, and I was upset to hear the bear was killed, but I think the humans get the benefit of the doubt in this case.

That said, we have an obvious sprawl issue in NJ and this problem is only going to get worse as we allow what little remaining bear habitat there is to be developed.

I never thought it would happen but as were going now we may see bears disappear from NJ within our lifetime.

Posted by: State Street Pete | May 10, 2006 4:24:48 PM

I frankly think those cops and whoever created this 'zero tolerance' policy ought to be put down.

Posted by: Kevin Lee Allen | May 10, 2006 4:36:42 PM

This is a dicey one. The story clearly says that the animal control guy was in position with the dart, and that it was he who made the decision to use bullets instead. It seems to have been an issue of "moments."

I have to wonder whether the bear's behavior wasn't due to being surrounded by the cops. Were they too aggressive? Did they spook the bear needlessly? Without having been there it's impossible to know.

It's just a damn shame that it ended like this. I hope some lessons can be learned from this situation, if there are any.

Posted by: crank | May 10, 2006 4:39:51 PM

"I never thought it would happen but as were going now we may see bears disappear from NJ within our lifetime."

Actually, the beear population is thriving, compaired to what it used to be:
Q. What is New Jersey's historical bear population and how has it changed over time?
A. Prior to European settlement, bears were numerous and occurred throughout the entire state. By 1900, settlers had practically eliminated New Jersey's black bears by clearing nearly all the state's forests for lumber, fuel and agriculture, and by killing bears indiscriminately as "vermin". As a result of the protection provided by "game animal" status, population increases in Pennsylvania and New York, and forest maturation providing improved habitat, NJ black bear numbers have been increasing and their range expanding since the 1980s.

Posted by: Bitpusher | May 10, 2006 4:56:34 PM

We were told (when we went into Glacier Park) that a strong dose of bear spray would have had more,
immediate effect (and we could make a hasty run for it) then a gun firing one shot at a time( and hitting it
in a fatal area).
Taking into account the massive size of a bear, a few hundred pounds (females approx 150lbs- males upwards of 300lbs) & layers of fat & muscle, and the speed that's prob why that many shots were used.

Posted by: JT | May 10, 2006 4:58:43 PM

Trigger Happy Cops

Posted by: gg | May 10, 2006 5:00:39 PM

Maybe if we stop building on every available space.....

Posted by: late | May 10, 2006 5:07:27 PM

Maybe if we stop building on every available space.....

Actually Gov. Mcgreavy pushed through the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act for that purpose.

Posted by: Bitpusher | May 10, 2006 5:12:44 PM

Bitpusher... the code word is ANWR.

Posted by: lasermike026 | May 10, 2006 5:16:13 PM

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