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Thursday, March 17, 2005


FRANKLIN LAKES - The dead bear that a borough family discovered in their back yard last week was probably hit by a car, state officials said Wednesday.

"It was more than likely a road kill," said Elaine Makatura, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. "There are compound fractures of the hind legs and bruises that could have been caused by skidding along the road surface."

Where the bruin was hit, however, and how it ended up in the Schmidt family's wooded Wichita Trail back yard, may remain a question for the ages.

Borough police said they had no recent calls about drivers hitting animals, though it was possible the bear was hit in another town and staggered to the Schmidts' yard.

Schmidt said she was relieved because she thought the bear might have been shot. She had found what she called a "gaping wound" in its abdomen. "I'm glad it wasn't a gun [that killed the bear]," she said.

The bruin was a male, about 2 years old, Makatura said. She said it was placed in a wildlife management area Wednesday to decompose naturally.

A state Fish and Wildlife official carted the bear away about 4 p.m. Tuesday, nearly a week after Schmidt's 10-year-old daughter, Gigi, came upon the carcass.

Schmidt called wildlife officials Thursday and was told they were too busy to remove it.

An article ran in The Record on Tuesday, and television and radio coverage followed.

Tests concluded that the bear was dead for at least three weeks when Gigi found it. Schmidt found that hard to believe.

"Gigi is always in that area, and I'm always on the lookout for bears," Schmidt said.

Gigi said she was glad the bear was taken from her back yard.

"At least he'll be in a better place soon," she said.

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