Did a Bear Visit Rutgers University?

Credits: Pixabay
This map shows the spread of black bears throughout New Jersey from 1995 to 2014. Credits: New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — With winter now firmly in the past, you might expect to see a bear in some parts of New Jersey.

But at Rutgers University? Apparently so, according to several witnesses.

Around 2 am. today, May 5, police received “multiple calls” regarding a bear sighting near Ethel Road and the James Dickson Carr Library on Rutgers’ Livingston Campus in Piscataway, according to school officials. That places the bear near a number of academic buildings and the Quads, which house thousands of students.

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Rutgers sent an emergency text alert to students at 2:07 a.m. University police officers then checked the area.

“There were no subsequent bear sightings and no reports of direct contact with the bear,” Dory Devlin, a university spokesperson, said in a statement.

Rutgers blasted out an all-clear message at 5:05 a.m., meaning no bear was in the area.

So is it possible that a bear wandered over to Livingston Campus? In short, yes.

Black bear sightings have been confirmed in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties, according to the state Division of Fish and Wildlife. Indeed, maps show that bears have been spotted in New Brunswick and Piscataway as far back as 2000.

Sightings have blossomed in the state over the past 20 years.

In 1995, bear sightings were confirmed in a few dozen municipalities in the heavily-wooded northwest portion of the state. By 2000, the animals had steadily worked their way south and east, hitting Middlesex County.

By 2014, communities with confirmed bear sightings had become more common than those without.

But black bears don’t necessarily mean trouble. “By nature,” they tend to be wary of people, according to the state.

Here’s a list of tips on how to safely deal with bears. Advice ranges from never feeding or approaching a bear to making loud noises to scare it away.

The state warns that the “most common bear problem” facing residents is owed to the creatures getting into garbage cans.

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