Bear shows up in Evesham, stirring apprehension and excitement

The bear, after popping a child's ball and breaking a bird feeder. It later sauntered off into the woods, police said.
The bear, after popping a child's ball and breaking a bird feeder. It later sauntered off into the woods, police said. (Evesham Police Department)
Posted: June 15, 2014

The uninvited guest showed up Thursday afternoon with a bang, popping a child's ball in the backyard and then breaking a red bird feeder.

Evesham had a bear.

"We've been getting reports since last night about sightings . . . basically just walking around, hasn't been aggressive," Capt. Walt Miller, a spokesman for the Evesham Police Department, said Friday.

Still, the sight of a large black bear - one resident estimated its weight at 400 pounds - had the neighbors talking.

The bear "tossed trash cans around, had a nice lunch" Friday, said Russ Mogell, who for two years has lived in the Sanctuary development, tucked away in the woods.

Mogell had a few concerns about safety, he said, his first-grade son within paw's reach.

"You're always worried about it," he said, but added that he felt safe as long as his family didn't go near the animal.

Plus, he noted, it was the humans who were in the woods. Whose home is it, anyway?

"We get turkeys and deer and snakes and even a fox . . . but never a bear," said Carmen Pontelandolfo, a financial consultant at Morgan Stanley, whose daughter Brielle called him at work Friday morning to notify him of the bear sighting.

"I didn't believe her at first . . . but then I could tell. She had some fear in her voice," he said.

Brielle Pontelandolfo, 19, had cause for concern: A group of police officers were outside the home on John James Audubon Way, watching the bear rustle through the family's trash cans to get at their leftover crumb cake.

(It had apparently wandered to their home after taking on the ball and bird feeder at another house in the neighborhood.)

Sweet tooth satisfied, the bear moved a few yards and took up residence on the Pontelandolfos' driveway, right next to Brielle's car. It later spent part of the day in a tree down the block, before coming down and sauntering off.

The bear's gender was unclear Friday; Miller said no officer got close enough to check, and the bear's good behavior kept the Division of Fish and Wildlife from swooping in.

"Typically, if a bear's just being a bear, roaming from place to place, we don't go after it unless it's causing an emergency or possibly dangerous situation," said Bob Considine, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection.

"Bears, they're present in all 21 counties. I know it's a little bit odd to see them in South Jersey, but they're there," he said. "There are more bears in New Jersey than there are staff here, so obviously, we can't go out to every one of them."

There have been other recent bear sightings, including in Winslow Township. Residents of Chalfont, Bucks County, and Horsham, Montgomery County, also have reported seeing bears on the prowl.

Anyone who comes across a bear should maintain a safe distance and never under any circumstances feed it, Considine said, noting that it was illegal in New Jersey to intentionally feed a bear.

By the time Brielle's 12-year-old brother, Cooper, came home from school, he was ready to go searching for the visitor. Carefully.

"We find it, take a picture, and run," he said.

"Just don't go anywhere near it," Carmen Pontelandolfo said, worried about his cub.

Cooper's reply was quick: "Well, duh."



comments powered by Disqus