Cops kill bear who entered home

Three cubs captured and sent to wildlife sanctuary

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  • Photo by Donna Chamberlain This is the screen door the female bear broke through to enter the home on Bearfort Road in Pinecliff Lake.


A female bear was shot and killed by West Milford police Sunday after she broke into a Bearfort Road house, ransacking it and leaving after hearing the owner come in the front door.

Bears have been sighted in all 21 New Jersey counties, and bear-human encounters have occurred a bit more frequently in recent years in places outside of traditional bear country.
DEP wildlife experts stress that a black bear passing through a residential area should not be considered a problem, as long as it is behaving normally and not posing a threat. They offer the following tips to minimize conflicts with bears this spring:
Use certified bear-resistant garbage containers if possible. Otherwise, store all garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids and place them along the inside walls of your garage, or in the basement, a sturdy shed or other secure area.
Wash garbage containers frequently with a disinfectant solution to remove odors. Put out garbage on collection day, not the night before.
Avoid feeding birds when bears are active. If you choose to feed birds, do so during daylight hours only and bring feeders indoors at night. Suspend bird feeders from a free-hanging wire, making sure they are at least 10 feet off the ground. Clean up spilled seeds and shells daily.
Immediately remove all uneaten food and food bowls used by pets fed outdoors.
Clean outdoor grills and utensils to remove food and grease residue. Store grills securely.
Do not place meat or any sweet foods in compost piles.
Remove fruit or nuts that fall from trees in your yard.
Properly installed electric fencing is an effective way of protecting crops, beehives and livestock.
If you encounter a bear remain calm and do not run. Make sure the bear has an escape route. Avoid direct eye contact, back up slowly and speak with a low, assertive voice.
Report bear damage, nuisance behavior or aggressive bears to the Wildlife Control Unit of the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife at 908-735-8793. During evenings and weekends, residents should call their local police department or the DEP Hotline at 877-WARN-DEP.
To learn more about New Jersey's black bears and ways to avoid problems with them, visit and
- From the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Donna DiMino is that owner. She had left her house to visit a neighbor two doors down on this Mother's Day afternoon and was only gone for a short while, she said. When she arrived back home, she came through the front door and saw garbage all over her first floor. And she saw a bear in her kitchen. The bear had entered through a closed screen door at the back of her house.

DiMino first thought she had been robbed. She ran back to her neighbor’s house and the neighbor called 911. DiMino was in shock.

Police responded and found the bear sitting in the next door neighbor's yard, eating from a container of bird seed she removed from DiMino's kitchen.

“When a bear enters a home, it has lost its fear of humans,” said West Milford police Captain Richard Fiorilla. “This was a category one bear and it is a major problem when bears feel comfortable enough to enter someone’s home.”

The bear had been tagged twice before, according to police, indicating it had entered a house in the past. Police shot the bear. Two of her cubs were with her and were safely removed, but a third cub had climbed 50 feet up into the oak tree in the yard.

Larry Ragonese, a spokesperson from the Department of Environmental Protection, said his department received a call late Sunday about the bear cub. On Monday morning, they called James Maloney, who owns a local tree service. Maloney's son, Kyle, went up into the tree in a bucket loader after being prepped by the DEP on what to do and how to handle the cub. He got the cub into a net and brought him down safely at around 11 a.m. on Monday.

All three cubs were brought to a wildlife sanctuary where they will stay for about three months, Ragonese said. They will then be released.

Have you seen more bears around town? How do you feel about this incident? Let us know at

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