On Monday afternoon, a bear was able to escape into the woods after it was shot by the local police for breaking into a basement in Denville Township, in New Jersey. Authorities said that they lost track of the high-risk animal which was supposed to be shot dead under state law.
Police officers and wildlife agents chased the wild animal into the woods for several hours but to no avail. New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife reported that the bear escaped with a superficial, non-fatal wound.
The agency added that several “conditioning shots” were fired to scare the animal away from other residential homes. The animal was tagged as a Category 1 bear which means that it was about to be terminated.
Category 1 animals are those which pose an immediate risk to people’s life or private property. These bears also need to inflict at least $1,000 worth of damages to property or agricultural buildings or land before being shot to death.
Under the DEP rules, Category 1 animals are killed on site to protect human lives or prevent further damage to crops and other property.
The township police said they learned that a bear was roaming free in town when a resident reported it consuming garbage on the Riverside Drive. A police officer who was dispatched to the scene didn’t see the bear but he found that the window of a nearby basement was broken.
The officer reported that he took a look inside the location and “saw a bear inside, staring back at him.” Other officers were immediately dispatched to the home to chase the animal away. Fortunately, the home was unoccupied when the incident occurred.
Officers used rubber bullets to steer the animal away from the neighborhood and into the wooded area. Instead, the bear targeted another garbage can and started consuming the leftovers there.
Law enforcement agents had no choice but to put the bear down. One officer shot the animal with a real bullet from nearly 20 yards. The bullet hit the bear’s shoulder. However, officers needed more rubber bullets to successfully direct the animal into the woods.
DEP agents arrived soon at the scene and along with police officers tried to track the animal to see how bad the wound was and whether it needed medical attention. After several hours, the police gave up. One biologist analyzed the bear’s blood trail and concluded that the wound would allow the bear see another day.
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