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300-Pound Black Bear Traps Montebello Family, Friend Inside Home

A local family was recently visited by this 300-pound female black bear.
A local family was recently visited by this 300-pound female black bear. Photo Credit: John Natale

The Natale family was enjoying a night of family fun watching hockey on Friday when dad John heard loud noises coming from outside of his home in Montebello in Rockland County.

Opening up a curtain to take a look, Natale was greeted by a huge black bear staring back at him.

"I would estimate she was about 300 pounds and she was enjoying a dinner out of our garbage can," Natale says with a laugh.

Her food of choice -- a large hambone -- that Natale said she seemed to really be enjoying.

"She walked across our sidewalk with the hambone and sat down in the yard and was eating away," he said. "She laid down at one point with the bone to eat."

Of course, a 300-pound bear is no laughing matter, so when a family friend that was visiting said he wanted to leave to go home, Natala said "no way."

After making some noise to try to get the bear to leave, Natale decided to call the Ramapo Police.

With local bears just coming out of hibernation and hungry, Natale said he was very concerned.

"No way was anyone leaving the house with this large bear right outside the front door," he said. "We've had lots of bears in the area, before but never one this large."

When police arrived and saw the size of the bear, they decided to stay in their patrol cars and try and get the bear to leave by making noise and shining their bright lights in the bear's eyes, Natale said.

"You have to laugh," he said. "We were a captive audience in our house as the bear enjoyed her dinner. She didn't flinch when the police arrived and began shining their lights on her."

After about half an hour, the bear finished her hambone and made her way back into the woods, he said.

"I took a picture of her lying down with the bone with the police headlights shining on her," he said. "It was almost comical."

Natale, whose home is located near Harriman State Park on Haverstraw Road said he uses locking garbage cans to keep bears and other animals out. But, he said, of course, a latch is nothing for a 300 pound bear with three-inch claws.

This isn't the family's first encounter with bears and other animals including red foxes and coyotes. 

Recently, he said, his wife was working in a room in the house when she heard a noise and looked out the window to find a bear was staring back at her. But that bear, which was much smaller, left after she made some noise.

He doesn't want to put his garbage cans in the garage or barn and invite them inside when his family uses both frequently.

"We just keep an eye out and make sure there are none in the area," he said. "When you live where we do by the mountains you have to expect to have animals in the area."

But the large bear is not finished with Natale's garbage can yet. On Monday, she was back again digging through the can.

"Well, the garbage was picked up on Tuesday so we will have a few days before she's back to see what's for dinner," he laughed. "It's all good."

And, in the meantime, he is walking all of his guests to their cars, just in case.

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