Bear surprises NJ family

June 27, 2008 4:21:03 PM PDT
"He's in our backyard!" They're talking about the black bear that made an unexpected visit to the Badalamenti family of Hamilton Twp., Mercer County, Thursday. Make that TWO visits. The 140-q50 pound bruin was first spotted at about 2:30 in the afternoon in the back yard of their Cornflower Road home, munching on birdseed after he'd broken in to a feeder.

John Badalamenti said, "First thing came to my mind was everybody's been talking about this bear that's been around and it's sitting in my back yard."

John called the police and grabbed his camcorder--but the bear soon disappeared--only to show up again about 4 hours later.

This time the bold bear made his way onto the Badalamenti's deck where he wandered around for awhile and then stopped, not 2 feet away, looking John in the eye as he sauntered down the steps.

Annemarie Badalamenti was frightened. "It was oaky when it was 40 feet away from me but once it got on the deck I was a little scared.

The bear got away again but left behind quite and impression--including this hole in the grill cover he made with one swipe of his paw.

It was an experience this family won't soon forget.

"You could see deers and turkeys but a bear?" John Badalamenti asked. "That sounds, you know? We're not talking about a zoo here, we're talking about my backyard."

The bear has tags on its ears, which means the state has identified him at some point. Environmental officials say bears are attracted to greasy grill, garbage and birdfeeder, all of which should be put away this time of year to keep close encounters like this to a minimum.