Killing of bear in Union Beach sparks protest

UNION BEACH, NJ (CHASING NEWS) -- The death of a black bear in Union Beach, NJ, has many people rattled in the Shore town and has sparked controversy on social media among animal rights activists. It's also become a finger-pointing game on who is to blame for the bear's death.

Manuel Gonzalez said the ordeal started when he found the bear in front of his house Saturday.

"It was right here on the sidewalk," Gonzalez said.

Concerned that the 400-pound bear might attack someone, Gonzalez called police but by the time they arrived the bear had made its way into a neighbor's yard.

What has many people outraged is what happened next: Police contacted the NJ Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife and were told the division doesn't work on the weekends, so police were left to deal with the situation themselves. Ultimately police shot and killed the bear.

"You block the road off. You try to keep people away to figure out the situation with the bear," Gonzalez said. "Three officers showed up. They had it up in a tree. ...  Next thing you know Fish and Wildlife tells them to leave it alone. ...  Most likely it will wander off but now it's a catch-22. They let it go, somebody gets mauled, and then it's the officer's fault." 

Union Beach police defended their actions on Facebook, saying the decision was not made lightly.

In a statement, the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife said Union Beach police were advised to euthainize the bear only if they felt someone's life was in danger.

A neighbor said he thinks police did the right thing.

"You've got to take in consideration this bear was tagged in North Jersey so to make it all the way down here, who knows if he's going to be in your backyard when your kids go out to play and then the bear mauls your kid or tears your dog apart," said Jim Renard. "You've got to think that that this is a wild animal."