Department of Conservation officials in Rockland and beyond are calling the "very rare," but not unheard of.
A family barbecue at 567 Willow Grove Rd. was disrupted Saturday when a bear entered the property of host Richard Wheeler. Wheeler attempted to shoo the animal away, eventually "[taking] matters into his own hands," according to police, who arrived at the scene shortly afterward.
Police said Wheeler shot the bear with a rifle, killing it. A DEC representative also arrived at the scene afterward; Wheeler declined comment.
Monday morning, DEC officials told Patch that while bear encounters in Rockland and Orange Counties—and even Westchester County—are common, residents rarely opt to address the situation themselves.
"It doesn't happen that often," explained Wendy Rosenbach, a spokeswoman for the DEC's Region Three, which includes Rockland. She noted Wheeler was not issued any violations, and that the event was a "public safety issue"—especially because children were present.
Rosenbach said when shootings do happen, it is generally farmers who pull the trigger.
"If a bear is getting into honey, or going after livestock, farmers can take down the bear without any permit," she explained.
And if law enforcement officers or homeowners encounter any sort of animal that appears threatening, they too can dispatch it, Rosenbach said.
Most recently, a similar incident occurred in Ulster County. A bear was charging people due to a perception of her cubs being in danger; police shot and killed the bear, and DEC officials deemed the action appropriate.
Rosenbach said residents must inform the DEC after incidents like this.
"We do need to know, even if the bear was hit by a car," she said. "We do need to investigate, but in most cases we understand."
(For video of a bear in residential South Nyack being tranquilized after climbing up a tree, click .)
But the ideal situation is not attracting bears in the first place, Rosenbach said.
"We want to reduce attracting bears to property," she said. To do so, residents should bring their bird feeders indoors at the start of spring until winter, and not leave trash outside unless pick-up is the following morning.
"[Bears] will get into garbage, they are opportunistic feeders," Rosenbach said.
(For more bear prevention tips, or guidelines in the event of a sighting, click .)