navigation bar
  New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife
njdep home f&w home
Facebook Logo

Upright Bear Update


November 6, 2015
UPDATED: December 29, 2015

December 29, 2015 update:
The Division of Fish and Wildlife has received a report through the DEP Action Line (877-WARN-DEP) that the bi-pedal bear was sighted in West Milford on December 21. The bear was described to be in very good shape with an estimated weight of 300-350lbs. The caller also noted the bear had put on substantially more weight from when he saw the animal last year. This caller was asked to notify the Division of Fish and Wildlife if additional sightings occur.

In response to continued public interest in a black bear that has been seen walking upright in parts of Passaic and Morris counties, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection issued the following update today:

DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife continues to seek accurate and timely information regarding the location of the bear in order to assess its current condition. We encourage residents who see the bear to call 1-877-WARN-DEP (1-877-927-6337) immediately upon its sighting. Reporting information about the location, time of day and frequency of sightings is critically important.

There has not been a residential sighting of this upright bear reported to the Division in three weeks, indicating that it is not living in the neighborhoods where it has been seen. The Division believes this bear is likely in its natural habitat preparing for winter by taking advantage of this year's enormous acorn crop.

If the bear is located, biologists will respond to the scene to observe the animal. If it is determined the bear has injuries that may benefit from treatment, it will be brought to a New Jersey-licensed rehabilitation center for care. If it is determined the bear's condition will impede its long-term survival, the Division will seek a New Jersey-based animal facility for the bear to stay. If the bear is determined to be able to care for itself, it will be returned to its natural habitat.

Based on video footage of the bear, interviews with residents who have seen the bear and the animal's survival through last winter's very cold and snowy weather, the bear appears to have been able to find adequate food resources in an area of high bear density.

The Division understands that many people are concerned about the bear's well-being. However, in the professional judgement of Division experts and biologists, wild bears should not live in captivity. Black bears are very adaptable animals. The fact that this bear made it through last year's harsh winter is a strong indicator of its ability to survive without human intervention. In fact, many bears in northern New Jersey have survived collisions and have adapted to life with their injuries. They are able to survive on natural foods within the reach of the ground.

The ability to climb is also not necessary for a bear's survival, as some have said. In fact, many larger and older black bears actually lose their ability or willingness to climb. It also has been stated that this bear will not be able to "dig" a den because of injuries to its front paws. This is not an issue, as black bears in New Jersey typically den on the open ground in a surface nest, under fallen trees or within rock outcroppings.

More information about New Jersey's black bears can be found at Residents are reminded to never approach bears and that the intentional feeding of any black bear is dangerous and is illegal in New Jersey.

  Adobe Acrobat Some files on this site require adobe acrobat pdf reader to view. download the free pdf reader  
bottom footer contact dep privacy notice legal statement accessibility statement nj home nj home citizen business government services a to z departments dep home

division of fish & wildlife: home | links | contact f&w
department: njdep home | about dep | index by topic | programs/units | dep online
statewide: njhome | citizen | business | government | services A to Z | departments | search

Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2015
Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: November 29, 2015