N.J. man faces fines in bear attack Bill Jacobs of Gloucester City threw a bagel at the animal to get a snapshot in a state forest. His 5-year-old was clawed.

Posted: July 12, 2001

A man who used a bagel to lure a black bear close enough to snap a picture of the animal faces a court date and up to $2,000 in fines.

Bill Jacobs of Gloucester City has been issued two summonses for intentionally feeding a bear and for harassing wildlife.

Jacobs, 35, was hiking at Worthington State Forest in Warren County with his three children late last month when he saw the black bear and tossed a bagel its way in the hope of getting a snapshot.

But the plan backfired. The bear devoured the bagel and went after Jacobs' 5-year-old son, Billy, who was left with claw marks on his arm and shoulder blade.

"I'm kind of shocked," Jacobs said. "This is going to be another hassle."

Sharon Southard, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said that, by signing a registration form given all campers, Jacobs had agreed he would not feed bears.

"Our rangers verbally review the policy," Southard said. "The bear population has increased, bears are looking for a free handout, and we've been even more vigilant in the past few years."

The state's "zero tolerance" for bear feeders is prudent, according to wildlife experts.

"There's an adage that says a fed bear is a dead bear," said Kate Kendall, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. "Usually, once a bear has received food, it's such a powerful learning experience for them they focus on that food and almost always end up getting killed."

State officials had said the bear that attacked Jacobs' son would be euthanized if found, but they have removed traps and ended an 11-day search.

"It's really a bad deal," said Kendall, past vice president of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. "The key to preserving the bear population is controlling the access to artificial foods."

June and July are the peak months for mating among bears, and the number of New Jersey bears is well over 1,000, according to the state Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Adult male black bears can weigh more than 600 pounds, although the typical male is about 400 pounds. Adult female bears average 185 pounds.

New Jersey has embarked on an extensive campaign to let campers know that feeding bears in the wild is dangerous.

"Bears are cute, and we want to coexist peacefully with them, but they're wild animals, and you don't want them to lose the fear of humans," Southard said.

Jacobs' hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in North Warren Municipal Court.

Kristen Graham's e-mail address is kgraham@phillynews.com.

This article contains information from the Associated Press.

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