Updated at 10:05 a.m., May 30
SOUTH JERSEY -- The Burlington County bear has ended his celebrity stroll. Officers brought down the bear Thursday morning with a tranquilizer. Get the details and photos:
The bear continues to make its way east, with sightings in Maple Shade late Tuesday/early Wednesday, and again early Wednesday morning in Moorestown.
The black bear was most recently spotted in the area of Browning and Cottage avenues, adjacent to Pennsauken Creek, by Moorestown Police. Maple Shade Police observed the bear on Wilson Road, right near the border between Maple Shade and Moorestown, around midnight Tuesday.
In both instances, the bear has avoided contact with people by retreating into the woods, police reported.
Until the bear moves on, police continue to urge residents to avoid leaving their trash out in the open and advise against putting it at the curb until the morning trash is to be collected.
The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) also cautions against trying to seek out and observe the bear and notes that feeding a bear is against the law.
Contact Moorestown Police at 856-234-8300 if you see the bear so they can keep track of its location. Report bear damage or nuisance behavior to the DEP 24/7 bear hotline at 877-927-6337.
To keep current on the bear's movements, sign up for emergency notification systems with your local police department.
Go here to sign up for Nixle alerts from Moorestown Police.
The bear who took a walking tour through Mount Laurel and Moorestown over Memorial Day weekend is apparently still hanging out, according to police.
Moorestown Police Lt. Lee Lieber said the black bear was spotted Tuesday in the vicinity of Route 38 and Nixon Drive, near Strawbridge Lake. Residents also reported seeing the bear on the unit block of Meadow Drive, the 100 block of Kings Highway and the unit block of Shirley Avenue.
Lieber said Moorestown and Mount Laurel police have both reached out to the state Division of Fish and Wildlife for assistance in dealing with the bear, but were informed the state typically doesn't intervene unless the bear has been contained.
"I'm not really sure how you're supposed to contain a 400- to 500-pound bear," he said.
Larry Hajna, a spokesperson with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), said the state's policy with bears is of the "live and let live" variety.
"Our policy is if the bear is just wandering through an area, and is not causing any problems ... we just let the bear be," said Hajna.
He said black bears are rarely aggressive and tend to leave humans alone. That said, he advised against approaching the bear, and especially against feeding it.
"You just have to fight that urge to be a curiosity-seeker," said Hajna.
The bear was seen wandering around Mount Laurel Sunday and Monday, staying within a half-mile radius around Church Street between Route 38 and I-295. Lieber said police thought Route 38 might keep the bear somewhat contained, but apparently it made its way across the highway at some point.
Lieber said at this point police are just trying to keep track of where the bear is via reported sightings.
Although there's no way to be absolutely certain, it's very likely the sightings are all of the same bear, based on the descriptions and locations, he said.
Lieber said he could not recall any previous reports of bear sightings in Moorestown in his time with the department.
Although black bears are not known for being aggressive, police caution residents to keep their trash and bird feeders indoors and stay away from the bear—and also keep an eye on their pets.
The following information comes from the Division of Fish and Wildlife:
Black bears are the largest land mammal in New Jersey. They are an integral part of the state's natural heritage and a vital component of healthy ecosystems.
Since the 1980s, the Garden State's black bear population has been increasing and expanding its range both southward and eastward from the forested areas of northwestern New Jersey. Within the most densely populated state in the nation, black bears are thriving and there are now confirmed bear sightings in all 21 of New Jersey's counties.
Division of Fish and Wildlife personnel use an integrated approach to managing New Jersey's black bear population, fostering coexistence between people and bears.
The map above shows flags where the bear was spotted, with the red line showing where police generally believe the bear moved around this weekend. Visit this page to add your own sighting—enter the address and click "add to map" to add a sighting.
Residents are urged to contact the police department at 856-234-8300 to report any sightings of a bear in the township.