Ringwood residents had been taking videos and posting pictures of a mother bear and her four cubs with no complaints reported.
One father who provided video to Eyewitness News said the mother wasn't aggressive at all, letting him and his young boys get fairly close during their walk.
But on Monday, New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers received reports of three dead bears in Ringwood State Park.
A hiker spotted three bears near Valley Road along the border of the state park. When officers arrived, they found a fourth animal nearby.
All four were cubs that had been shot and killed.
Officers continued their investigation through the week and issued several summonses to 22-year-old Matthew Ligus.
Ligus was summoned for hunting with a firearm without a license, hunting with an illegal weapon and ammunition, and hunting a bear during a closed season along with several others.
"Do I think the kid should be in trouble? Hell yeah they were cubs," resident Kim Visser said. "I hear he baited them and then shot them."
Wildlife officials have not yet released details about how the bears were hunted and killed.
He faces over $5,000 in fines if convicted of all charges to the highest degree.
Residents expressed shock and disbelief at the fate of these four cubs.
"We were upset and heartbroken," neighbor Amber Vonzweh said. "Pretty much everyone in town was upset."
This comes the day after New Jersey reinstated the state's controversial black bear hunt.
The hunt was approved as an emergency rule and will coincide with the annual 6-day shotgun season from December 5 to December 10.
Jeff Tittel has been advocating for decades on proper, non-lethal black bear management in New Jersey
"When you tell people we have to exterminate bears, people do these horrible things," Tittel said.
RELATED: NJ reinstates bear hunt amid increased sightings
NJ reinstates bear hunt amid increased sightings
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