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Ridgefield Park-Hasbrouck Heights Daily Voice serves Hasbrouck Heights, Little Ferry, Moonachie, Ridgefield Park & Wood-Ridge

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Mahwah Police Scoop Up Hikers Spooked By Bear, Offer 'Protocol' Tips

Black bears are relatively common in the area.
Black bears are relatively common in the area. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

MAHWAH, N.J. -- A black bear stopped two hikers in their tracks at the Ramapo Reservation in Mahwah, but authorities said there was no cause for concern.

"We received a call [Tuesday afternoon] from two hikers who said there was a bear 10 feet away in their path and they were concerned," Police Chief James Batelli said.

Pinging their location through a cellphone, the department's Utility Terrain Vehicle team picked up the pair and transported them out of the park, he said.

"Officers spoke to several hikers, some of whom had seen the bear and others who did not," Batelli told Daily Voice. "None of the other hikers seemed alarmed -- the bear did not act aggressively. But [the two who called] were concerned.

"A dispatcher provided them with bear protocol over the phone while relaying their location to the UTV team," the chief said.

TYCO Animal Control also responded, he said.

Black bear attacks against humans are extremely rare, Batelli said -- but that doesn't mean people shouldn't take precautions to protect themselves.

He advised:

  • Never feeding or approaching a bear;
  • Avoiding direct eye contact, which may be perceived as a challenge;
  • Never running from a bear -- back away slowly;
  • Never cornering a bear.

"A bear may utter a series of huffs, make popping signs by snapping its jaws and swatting the ground," the chief said.

"These are warning signs that you are too close," he said. "Slowly back away, avoid eye contact -- and do not run."

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