Police in West Deptford Township tracked a black bear through neighborhoods and creeks on Monday morning, drawing a crowd of neighbors and others who admit to following him for hours.
"At first there weren't a lot of people looking but right now there's a lot of people because they want to see him," said Kaylin Stetsor.
Chief Sean McKenna said it was his first time responding to a bear call in his 26 years as an officer. He asked residents to stay in their cars or homes, both for their own safety and the bear's.
"We're asking everyone to stay home, allow the bear to be in his natural habitat and on his way," said McKenna.
All, we are putting updates out for the safety of the public and bear. Stay home! You are spooking the bear.— West Deptford Police (@WDPolice) June 15, 2020
At one point, officers put staff inside of an elementary school on lockdown. Chief McKenna says he called the game warden for help, but the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said it would only send someone out if the bear were causing a threat.
This also wasn't the first sighting.
"Yeah we had him in Wenonah yesterday so I came up here to look at him again today," said James Ramsay.
Officers in Mantua Township and Oak Valley both responded to bear sightings over the weekend. In Bucks County, Lower Makefield Township Police issued a shelter in place order after a bear sighting Sunday.
In Delaware County, Upper Chichester Police responded to a bear sighting last week. Black bears are common in the tri-state area and are not typically dangerous without provocation.
"It's not a zoo. It's something that's serious, it can cause some danger if the bear's engaged or scared," said Chief McKenna.
He's asking anyone else who sees the bear to not approach it and call 911 immediately.
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