Family of New Jersey bear cub shot dead, man charged

A New Jersey man has been charged with allegedly slaughtering a beloved family of bear cubs for illegal hunting, leaving local fans of the furry crew “upset and heartbroken,” according to reports Wednesday.

A mother bear and her four cubs had become a popular sight near Ringwood State Park in Passaic County, and were so comfortable around people that young children could easily get close to the animals, ABC 7 reported.

The family was frequently photographed by local residents and no complaints were made against them.

But on Monday, the four cubs were found dead from gunshot wounds in the park by a hiker, who reported the grisly discovery to officials at the New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Conservation.

The bear family in the forest.
The mother bear and her four cubs had been a popular sight at Ringwood State Park.
One of the baby bears in the trees.
Local residents say the bears were not aggressive and allowed people to approach them.

The hiker found three of the cubs near Valley Road, near the park boundary, and when officers arrived they found the fourth cub nearby.

The whereabouts of her apparent mother were not immediately known.

“We were upset and heartbroken,” Amber Vonzweh, who lives near the park, told the outlet.

“Pretty much everyone in town was upset.”

A road near the park.
The slaughtered bears were found on Valley Road near the park boundary.

Matthew Lingus, 22, has been faced with a range of charges in connection with the killings, including hunting with a firearm, hunting a bear during a closed season and hunting with an illegal gun and ammunition, the outlet reported.

“Do I think the kid should be in trouble? Hell yes, they were hatchlings,” said station resident Kim Visser.

“I heard he baited her and then shot her.”

A map of where Ringwood State Park is located.
Ringwood State Park is near the New York border, near Warwick.

It’s not clear exactly how Lingus allegedly preyed on the boys.

The news comes a day after the Garden State resumed its black bear hunt, which has drawn widespread criticism from animal rights activists.

Jeff Tittel, who has long advocated humane management of black bears without culling, said the cubs’ deaths were a side effect of the government’s program.

“When you tell people that we need to eradicate bears, people do these horrible things,” Tittel said. Family of New Jersey bear cub shot dead, man charged


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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