WESTFIELD, NJ — (Updated at 8:54 a.m.) Town police advised the public Tuesday morning not to approach a bear that had been spotted in the area of Woodland Road.

The bear sighting in Westfield followed numerous reports of a black bear spotted in neighboring Cranford on Monday.

Westfield police in a Nixle alert sent at 6:40 a.m. told the public to use “extreme caution” and if they see the bear to call the department’s non-emergency line at 908-789-4000. Police have also advised residents to keep pets indoors.

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At 8:50 a.m., police in Mountainside reported they were tracking a bear in the area of Birch Hill and Wood Valley roads.

A photo of a bear seen in Cranford Tuesday showed it running in between homes on Orchard Street.

American black bears, according to the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, can typically run up to 35 mph and have an “excellent sense of smell” that can sometimes lead them on searches for food in residential neighborhoods.

Earlier this month, authorities warned of a black bear in Millburn. And last week, Fish and Wildlife officials were dispatched to Manahawkin where they found a bear in a tree near a McDonald's.

The state Division of Fish and Wildlife offers the following tips for the public on bears.

  • Never feed or approach a bear.
  • Remain calm if you encounter a bear. Do not run from it.
  • Make the bear aware of your presence by speaking in an assertive voice, singing, clapping your hands or making other noises.
  • Make sure the bear has an escape route.
  • If a bear enters your home, provide it with an escape route by propping all doors open.
  • Avoid direct eye contact, which may be perceived by a bear as a challenge. Never run from a bear. Instead, slowly back away.
  • To scare the bear away, make loud noises by yelling, banging pots and pans or using an airhorn. Make yourself look as big as possible by waving your arms. If you are with someone else, stand close together with your arms raised above your head.

Email: Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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