Deer hunter kills small bear climbing toward him in Hunterdon tree stand, DEP confirms | NJ.com
A small-but-aggressive black bear was shot dead by a deer hunter, who was up in a tree stand, on Saturday morning as it climbed toward him in the Clinton Wildlife Management Area. The incident was confirmed today by a state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman.
Larry Ragonese of the DEP said that a 24-year-old Sayreville man, armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, was in a tree stand, about 10 to 12 feet up, when he first noticed a bear walking around in the vicinity at about 9:15 a.m.
A half-hour later, the hunter "inadvertently made some noise, which drew the bear's attention and it started to climb one of the tree trunks" supporting the tree stand." The bear was a young male, weighing 85 to 100 pounds.
The hunter told Fish & Wildlife authorities that he shouted at the bear several times hoping to scare it away, but the bear kept climbing. Ragonese had no information on the bear's demeanor, but would say that the hunter was "uncomfortable for his safety."
"It continued up towards him and (when the bear was about 3 feet away) he fired one time in self-defense, striking the bear in the chest, and the bear fell out of the tree and landed on the ground," Ragonese said.
The hunter immediately climbed down from the tree, got the Fish & Wildlife phone number from a fisherman, and reported the incident at 10 a.m.
"All the evidence at the scene supports the hunter's claim," said Ragonese. "We looked at the claw marks in the tree, the angle of the shooting, and the blood evidence. It seems he acted appropriately, and no summons was issued."
Fish & Wildlife experts told Ragonese it is not the time of year for rabies in bears. He said, "It was probably just a curious bear. It might have smelled something on the hunter such as the residual odor of food, but whatever it was, the bear was going toward the hunter and the hunter could not get the bear to desist, so he shot the bear."
It couldn't be called an attack because "we're not sure if the bear understood what was in the tree, but you could call it an aggressive bear," Ragonese said.
According to Fish & Wildlife, the average female black bear weighs 175 pounds and the average male weighs 400 pounds.
The Clinton Wildlife Management Area, which is northwest of Van Syckles Road, is mostly in Union Township, but a small part is in Bethlehem Township.