Deer Hunter Has Close Call With Bear

UNION TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) -

A deer hunter in a tree stand fatally shot a black bear that began climbing up the tree toward him after it got within 3 feet of him, months after New Jersey suffered its first fatality from a bear in recorded history.

The Sayreville man was armed with a 12-gauge shotgun on Saturday morning when he inadvertently made noise that drew the young male bear’s attention. The bear, estimated to weigh about 85 to 100 pounds, then began climbing up one of the tree trunks supporting the stand, which was 10 to 12 feet high.

The hunter shouted at the bear several times, hoping to scare it away, which is recommended by wildlife officials, but the bear kept climbing. The hunter shot the bear when it was about 3 feet away because he feared for his safety.

The bear fell out of the tree and landed on the ground. The hunter left the stand and soon found a fisherman nearby, and they contacted the DEP to report the shooting, which occurred outside black bear hunting season.

It’s unclear if the bear was trying to attack the hunter or if it smelled something on him, such as the residual odor of food. Wildlife officials say the hunter did just about everything they recommend to make a bear flee and won’t face any charges.