It took more than an hour for a mother bear and her three cubs to climb down from a Pine Brook resident's tree Thursday morning. But by doing so, the bears avoided tranquilization as they were walked back into the woods by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Fish and Wildlife officials.
The bears were reported by Claudia Lemmerz, a Gathering Road resident, who said she noticed the bears around 9 a.m.
"I was getting dressed and I looked out the window and there were four bears in my backyard," she said.
Lemmerz, 47, said she called police and as soon as all four bears climbed the tree, she ran to her yard to bring her two bunnies, which have outdoor cages, inside. While Lemmerz said it is not often she sees bears in Pine Brook, she was not afraid.
"I was actually very excited," she said. "We kind of knew about them from our neighbors."
Police said neighbors in the Pine Brook neighborhood have reported these specific bears roaming around the streets and poking into garbage cans for the past two weeks. While the bears have not harmed any residents, some have become frightened and called police.
Initially, the NJDEP officials who arrived on the scene planned to tranquilize the bears, but because of the location of the tree they had climbed, police said the bears could have fallen on to a wooden fence, possibly injuring themselves. From Lemmerz' window, the bears appeared comfortable in the tree, the cubs wrestling.
"I have three kids and seeing those bears up there reminds me of my three kids," she said.
But after a while, the bears decided to climb down on their own accord, then leading the NJDEP officials on a walk through the neighborhood as they scouted several residents' yards looking for food. The officials were able to walk the bears toward the woods safely without use of tranquilizers.