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New Jersey man arrested for slaughtering 4 bear cubs, local residents say 'we're upset and heartbroken'

New Jersey resumed its hunt for black bears a short while back, which has drawn harsh criticism from animal rights activists
The bears were accustomed to people living in the area and posed no threat to them (Screenshot/Youtube/ABC 7)
The bears were accustomed to people living in the area and posed no threat to them (Screenshot/Youtube/ABC 7)

PASSAIC, NEW JERSEY: A New Jersey man is charged with illegal hunting when he killed a beloved family of bear cubs on November 16, leaving locals of the area "upset and heartbroken." According to ABC 7, a mother bear and her four cubs have become a common sight close to Ringwood State Park in Passaic County. The bears are so accustomed to people that little children may approach them without incident.

Locals routinely took pictures of the family and there were no complaints lodged against them. But on November 14, a hiker discovered the four bear cubs dead from gunshot wounds inside the park and informed New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Conservation authorities about the horrifying situation. Three of the cubs were discovered by the hiker at Valley Road, close to the park's edge, and the fourth cub was also nearby when authorities arrived. Their mother's whereabouts were unknown at the time.


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“We were upset and heartbroken,” Amber Vonzweh, who lives near the park, told ABC 7. “Pretty much everyone in town was upset.” According to the publication, Matthew Lingus, 22, was charged with numerous offenses including using a firearm without a firearm license, going bear hunting during a prohibited season, careless discharge, possessing illegal ammunition, and hunting bears with an illegal weapon. He may have to pay up to $6000 in potential fines for these charges.

The bears posed no threat to the locals of the area and allowed humans to approach them (Screenshot from Youtube/ABC 7)

“Do I think the kid should be in trouble? Hell yeah they were cubs,” resident Kim Visser exclaimed. “I hear he baited them and then shot them.” It's unclear exactly how Lingus is said to have hunted the cubs.

The news comes one day after the Garden State resumed its hunt for black bears, which has drawn harsh criticism from animal rights supporters. Gov Phil Murphy promised during his campaign to work to put an end to the New Jersey black bear hunt. While the New Jersey Sierra Club continued to advocate for a complete ban, he passed a law in 2018 banning bear hunting on state grounds.


In order to control the bears' expanding population, the black bear hunt was reinstated in the state in 2003 after an almost three-decade hiatus. A state appeals court this year dismissed an argument against the hunt's 2015 expansion. Cubs under 75 pounds are still prohibited from being hunted. Additionally, it is illegal to hunt adult bears when they are with cubs as reported by Latestnews.

The deaths of the cubs, according to Jeff Tittel, an advocate for humane black-bear management that doesn't involve culling, are a result of the state's policy. “When you tell people we have to exterminate bears, people do these horrible things,” Tittel said.