UNION BEACH — Police said they killed a bear early Sunday morning, hours after issuing a warning about one being spotted.

Black bear in a dumpster (NJ DEP)

A warning was posted on the Union Beach Police Facebook page at 10:15 p.m. Saturday night about a "large bear" spotted by an officer on Edmunds Avenue. A call to residents made by police said the bear weighed 400 pounds and was in a tree, according to the Asbury Park Press.

In the comments section of the post at 1:40 a.m. police posted an update that the bear had been killed.

"It is with sincere regret that we announce the animal had to be put down. Subsequent to assessing the situation with several variables involved, the decision was made to prevent an even more grave situation from occurring," the post read. The post did not offer details on what led to the shooting but wrote that "human life takes precedent over animal life. Public safety will always be our number one priority."

Middletown Police spokesman Lt. Paul Bailey nor DEP spokesman Bob Considine did not know if the bear was the same one seen in the Township the past two days on Melissa Drive and Packard Drive.

"Black bears have been sighted in all 21 counties," Considine said, but are not common in Monmouth County.

Reaction to the incident was varied.

"I get it and respect your decision. I am aure it had to be done UBPD," Traci Sheen-Mcnamara commented on the police post. "I cannot imagine how you can justify this, but I'm willing to have an open mind. A treed bear was a threat," Christine Braile wrote.

Union Beach Police have not yet returned a message seeking additional comment.

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