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Wandering Bear Spotted Again In Mount Laurel

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MOUNT LAUREL, N.J., (CBS) — A bear that was spotted wandering around a Burlington County town made another appearance Tuesday morning.

CBS 3 photographer Alan Wheeler spotted the bear wandering around outside a residence on Teal Lane in Mount Laurel at about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Mount Laurel resident Ruth Johnson says laughing, “I really don’t want to meet him at night!”

Our cameras followed the animal into a retention pond at the Holiday Village Adult Community.

Lt. Stephen Riedener of Mount Laurel Police says, “He is doing what bears do, he is wandering around, he is looking somewhere right now cool to lay down.”

The Mount Laurel Police Department said Tuesday morning that the bear was spotted in two places. The first was in the woods near 220 Mt. Laurel Rd near the New Jersey Turnpike. The bear was later spotted wandering around the Birchfield development near S. Lake Drive.

Mount Laurel Police say they will continue to monitor the bear’s activity until it moves out of the township.

Five-year-old Johnny Simpson says he wasn’t scare to see the animal, but his family insists this is no cartoon bear

Janice Simpson says, “It’s not Yogi, definitely not Yogi bear.”

The bear is so popular, it has it’s own Twitter account, making this the safest way to follow the bear.

Lt. Riedener says, “We recommend not chasing him. Don’t follow him, no selfies, try taking pictures with him.”

The same bear was also spotted twice wandering around Mount Laurel on Monday. (See Related Story)

Lieutenant Stephen Riedener says the bear was spotted by a driver at Mount Laurel and Church Roads around 9 a.m. Monday and then again in the neighborhood near Hainesport and Hartford Roads around 4:30 p.m. Local schools and neighbors were alerted, but there were no lockdowns or evacuations.

It’s believed the same bear was first spotted in Waterford Township last week and in Evesham Township Saturday and again around 6:30 a.m. Monday morning on Delancey Way.

There were also two bear sightings in Winslow Township last week, but it’s believed that may be a second bear.

State Game officials say because natural bear habitats are shrinking, black bears have now been spotted in all 21 counties. Also, officials say, because the fierce winter destroyed natural food, bears have had to forage in more distant areas looking for something to eat.

Game officials say because the bear spotted in Mount Laurel has not caused any serious harm, they are not joining the search for him at this time, hoping he will find his way back to his normal habitat.

KYW’s Molly Daly spoke to a state environmental official about the sightings of the normally secretive animals, and why they’re causing a stir.

“I think, because, for most of us, the only time we see a bear is when it’s behind a gate at the zoo. Now, all of a sudden, that gate’s not there,” said spokesman Bob Considine of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Considine says most of the state’s 2,800 bears live in northwest Jersey, but they’ve been seen in all 21 counties, and it’s not unusual for them to travel in search of food.

“The Division of Fish and Wildlife is monitoring the situation, we’ve notified local police. As far as we can tell right now, this is just what we call a Category 3 bear exhibiting normal behavior,” Considine said.

Category 3 means it’s not a nuisance or threat to public safety. Considine says you can keep it that way by not feeding it. Bring in your bird feeders, and keep your garbage inside until trash time. And give the bear a reason to beat it back to the woods.

“If you’ve got a bear sitting on your lawn, and he’s just not going away, maybe clang some pans or something, make him feel he’s not a welcome guest,” Considine said.

Considine says Fish and Wildlife Division officials are keeping an eye on the situation, but don’t believe the Black bear, which eats a largely vegetarian diet, poses a threat to the public.

“We don’t have a history of bear attacks in the state of New Jersey. If anything, it’s your livestock and your pets that are in more danger than you. And they don’t want to be bothered — they just want to eat something. So it’s kind of up to you to make them look elsewhere for food,” Considine said.

Tuesday night, Mount Laurel Police announced the bear was last spotted leaving Mount Laurel and traveling east into Hainesport Township around 8:30 p.m.

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