HomeMt Laurel NewsBear affair: A black bear steals the spotlight in Mt. Laurel.

Bear affair: A black bear steals the spotlight in Mt. Laurel.

Bear affair: A black bear steals the spotlight in Mt. Laurel.

He took down a bird feeder, went for a swim in a pond and took some time to tweet about his adventures.

For six days, a black bear became the talk of the town in Evesham and Mt. Laurel.

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Local residents kept their eyes peeled for the bear, which was first reported in Evesham on Thursday, June 12. The township posted a picture of the bear eating out of a bird feeder near the side of the road.

On Saturday, Evesham officials said the bear was seen in Kings Grant, Barton Run and near the Memorial Sports Complex before disappearing into the woods.

Township officials were not pleased with the lack of action from the state Division of Fish and Wildlife. A post on the township’s Facebook page said the state refused to sedate and relocate the bear. Mayor Randy Brown, council, township manager Bill Cromie and deputy township manager Monica Vandenberg signed the post, saying the division’s decision was “frustrating to the township and makes little sense.”

Township officials could not be reached for further comment.

In response, the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife preferred to allow the bear to continue on its way rather than relocate it. The bear was not to be sedated unless it posed a threat to residents or property.

After spending the weekend in Evesham, the bear reappeared in Mt. Laurel last Monday morning. Early reports indicated the bear was seen near the intersection of Mt. Laurel Road and Hainesport/Mt. Laurel Road.

Hillside Elementary School was hosting its field day on Monday when reports came in saying the bear was in the school’s vicinity. School district director of communications Marie Reynolds said the bear was not seen near any of the schools, and field day activities went on without a hitch.

Updates on the bear’s whereabouts did not just come from the local authorities. A Twitter account, @Mtlaurelbear, began to talk to followers on Tuesday morning, around the time when the bear was reported to be wandering around the Birchfield development off Union Mill Road.

“It’s great to be back in Mt. Laurel! Think I’ll stop by the Birchfield pool or pond today,” the “bear” said.

The Twitter account was originally created last year. In 2013, a black bear wandered residential communities such as Delran, Moorestown and Mt. Laurel, capturing the attention of local residents.

The appearance of bears the last two years has some residents wondering if more will wander into the area in the future. Bob Considine from the state Division of Fish and Wildlife said bears are most commonly found in the northwestern section of the state. However, there has been an increase in bear reports in Burlington County. There were 30 unconfirmed reports last year, up from 22 reports in 2012.

“I’d say it’s uncommon, but not unheard of,” Considine said of bear activity in the county.

Considine acknowledged there has been a trend of bears migrating south through New Jersey, but it is difficult to tell whether it will continue long-term.

“We’re getting more sightings in Central Jersey this year, but (bear sightings) happen every year,” he said.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife provides tips for those who encounter bears in their neighborhood. Among these are avoid eye contact with the bear, make noise by banging pots and pans, and back away slowly from the bear instead of running.

For now, Mt. Laurel is bear-free once again. Mt. Laurel Police said the bear left the township last Tuesday evening, departing east for Hainesport Township. As of the morning of June 19, he had traveled north of the Rancocas Creek and into Westampton Township and Mt. Holly. There have been no reports of injuries or property damage in connection with the bear.

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