ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Channeling Winnie the Pooh with its head stuck in a honey pot, a large black bear with an apparent sweet tooth smashed a car window to get to the two dozen cupcakes inside.
Nothing was left behind of the chocolate, vanilla and strawberry cupcakes except for some smeared icing and a paw print.
Christine Allen, who owns a bakery, left the cupcakes inside her parked Honda SUV parked in Rockaway Township, N.J., on Wednesday night.
On Thursday morning, she found a smashed rear window, no cupcakes, a paw print on the back seat headrest and lots of smeared icing.
"He ate every single one," she said.
Christine Allen said she baked the cupcakes for her shop in Denville, N.J. She said she was being industrious and getting ahead of a large order when she loaded her car with cupcakes Wednesday night.
“Around 2 o’clock this morning the dog started barking and I started hearing a crunch, crunch sound,” said Christine Allen. Her husband, Adrian Allen, looked outside and saw a bear in the yard.
The bear was no stranger to the Allens as he's been hanging around the neighborhood for a few weeks.
Lt. Peter Reilly of the Rockaway Township Police Department said the bear "looks like it's done some other damage in the area" as well. Now that it has broken into the car, Reilly said it raises the concern to "another level."
The first time this bear was seen by the Allens was the morning of April 21.
“He came one day and broke down the back fence to get in and he broke it again to get out,” said Allen. “Then he came back the next day and he was just relaxing in our backyard."
Neighbors who have seen the bear say it is a large one and its size indicates that it’s a male. When the bear came back on April 22, the Allens said he broke the basement door to get to their garbage.
“Then he went into the backyard and had a feast,” said Christine Allen. “He was just lazing in the sun.”
Adrian Allen said the bear also broke down another section of fence to get back to the woods.
The couple's home backs up to a wooded area that connects to Wildcat Ridge, which consists of 3,700 acres of forest.
“Now he broke my window. He loves our house,” said Christine Allen.
The Allens are animal lovers and their cupcake shop, Mo’ Pweeze Bakery, only makes vegan treats. They are now worried for the bear.
“We don’t want him to destroy our property. But we are very animal friendly, so we don’t want the bear to be killed. Animal cruelty is not what we do,” said Christine Allen.
She added that police might have to euthanize the animal.
“They said because he was showing aggressive behavior they may get the OK to put him down,” she said.
That is, in fact, in accordance with New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection guidelines. The NJDEP uses a 1-3 system to rate a bear’s interactions with people and property.
A category 3 bear is not a threat. A category 2 means the bear is becoming a nuisance, but it’s not a threat to life and property damage is less than $1,000. Category 1 is reserved for a bear that breaks into a home or does more substantial damage to property. These bears are euthanized, according to NJDEP rules.
At this point, however, the bear isn't in custody, said Reilly. So the only thing police can do is notify the Fish and Wildlife Division of the NJDEP.
Rockaway Township Police carry “bear conditioning kits” in the trunks of patrol cars that contain rubber buckshot and pyrotechnics to scare bears away. But Reilly doesn't recommend that "because you don't want to scare them into an area where there are more people."
He added that bear activity has been lower this year than last year. Police have received fewer than 10 bear calls since the start of spring, and this was the first notification of a problem bear.
"But we now have a record that this guy is a little more aggressive, so when we get calls to the area we will have a different level of response," Reilly said.