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Authorities call Wantage Beast 'an unidentified woods animal'

by Dave Shelton
(Source: New Jersey Herald; Newton, N.J.; Tuesday, May 17, 1977)

Wantage AP — State Police and the N.J. Division of Fish and Game released a joint statement yesterday, saying they have concluded that whatever killed eight rabbits on a farm here last week was "an unidentified woods animal," and that it may have been a wild dog.

Bears, however now reportedly have been seen in the vicinity of the farm owned by Richard Sites on Wolfpit Road. Police originally said it probably was a bear that clawed its way into Sites' garage, killed the rabbits which had been kept in cages, and terrified the family for a week.

Sites and three others say they fired at a tall, hairy monster with glowing, red eyes. He said his farm was not visited by a bear or smaller animal.

State Police Sgt. Ernest Seremi said yesterday that patrols have been checking the area of the Sites farm for a week, but have been unable to identify any animal capable of the attack.

"It has been tentatively determined", he said, "that the perpetrator is some type of woods animal, possibly a raccoon or wild dog, with little likelihood of it being a bear."

A man who said he lives nearby the Siteses said his son spotted two bear cubs in a field near the Sites farm at approximately 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Wildlife Manager Russell Spinks of the Division of Fish and Game, said yesterday that his department has learned that during the past few weeks residents of the Wolfpit Road area have reported a bear rummaging in a nearby garbage pit.

At the request of State Police, Preston Haney of the Division of Fish and Game has set up "live traps" in hopes of catching whatever animal is foraging near the Sites farm.

Also, Spinks said, Wantage Dog Warden Timothy Ryan has been advised that a wild German Shepherd has been seen near the Sites farm.

Two groups of volunteers, the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained and Vestigia, are probing the Sites farm for evidence of "Bigfoot", an alleged man?like creature said to have been spotted in that county, but never proven to exist.

Source: The New Jersey Herald; Newton, N.J.; Friday, May 20, 1977

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