SPARTA — A bear attacked and killed a dog on Layton Lane late Wednesday night, police said, the second in the township in less than three weeks.
Police received a call just after midnight on Thursday from resident Bill Pierce, who reported a bear attacked his 5-year-old Yorkie, Tommy, outside his home about two hours earlier, said Police Lt. John Lamon.
Pierce told police he let Tommy out in his backyard around 10 p.m. Wednesday, but the dog did not return when called. Pierce went outside to check on his dog and found bear tracks and blood in the snow. He followed the trail and found Tommy "mortally wounded" near the woods bordering his property, Lamon said.
Pierce brought Tommy to the hospital, where he died due to his injuries. Lamon said Pierce said he saw claw marks on the dog's side, which may have caused internal injuries leading to his death.
The police officer who responded confirmed the tracks and blood leading to the woods, but he was unable to locate the bear.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Fish and Wildlife Division was notified of the incident and will conduct a follow-up investigation, Lamon said.
Wednesday's fatal incident was the second involving a bear in Sparta in January. An English springer spaniel was killed and its 81-year-old owner was injured on Echo Drive on Jan. 3. Officials said at the time the bear would be trapped and euthanized, but it has not yet been found.
It is not known if the same bear was responsible for both dogs' deaths, but Lamon said the two incidents occurred "in the same area that a bear may consider its range."
The Jan. 3 incident renewed calls from local government officials for Gov. Phil Murphy to reinstate the bear hunt, which did not take place last year for the first time in more than a decade. Murphy's move to stop the hunt fulfilled a key promise he made in his first campaign for governor in 2017.
The Sussex County Board of Commissioners, in its meeting two days after the first dog was killed, announced that it was considering a formal resolution urging Murphy to put the hunt back in place.
The day after the meeting, Sen. Steve Oroho and Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths released a joint statement criticizing the governor's decision to eliminate the hunt as "a politically motivated policy that is dangerous and irresponsible."
The legislators' 24th District comprises all of Sussex County and northern Warren County, an area considered by wildlife officials to feature the largest black bear population in the state.
This article originally appeared on New Jersey Herald: Second dog killed by a bear in Sparta in January