NJDEP – News Release 22/P041 | Catch My Job


(22/P041) TRENTON – Residents and outdoor enthusiasts throughout New Jersey are encouraged to strictly adhere to guidelines for eliminating or securing potential food sources for black bears as they forage in preparation for the winter knitting season, the Department of Conservation Commissioner announced Shawn M. LaTourette’s environment today.

People living in or visiting areas of New Jersey where bears are active should be alert to the presence of bears and take steps to avoid interacting with them. Property owners, hikers and campers can reduce the likelihood of attracting bears if they diligently protect residences and campsites by removing or properly securing any potential food sources.

image“Black bears prepare to hide for the winter season and need to eat significant amounts of food in the fall,” David Golden, DEP Assistant Fish and Wildlife Commissioner said. “If you live in or visit areas where bears visit, it is important to ensure that they do not find food near your homes, as bears will naturally take advantage of easy meals by searching through unsecured trash cans and commercial trash bins or raiding bird feeders. “

Most of New Jersey’s black bears live in the northwestern part of the state, especially Morris, Sussex, Warren and northern Passaic counties, and parts of Hunterdon, Somerset and Bergen counties. However, black bears have been seen in all 21 New Jersey counties.

In FY22, the Murphy Administration allocated $1.5 million to the DEP to expand lethal control methods for black bears, which has enabled DEP to significantly increase public education and outreach efforts, including the development and implementation of a statewide multimedia outreach campaign. That funding level has also been maintained for FY23. The campaign included bilingual ads using social media, search, digital, video, streaming radio, public service announcements and email blasts across multiple platforms and devices. It also included redesigning the black bear webpages on the DEP Fish and Wildlife website, making it easier for people to find important information about bears. DEP Fish and Wildlife plans to continue the successful digital campaign.

Additionally, DEP Fish and Wildlife is finalizing the hiring of a program specialist to further educate the public about black bears in New Jersey and how to avoid conflicts with them. The specialist will work directly with municipalities to provide guidance for reducing human-bear interactions and assist in developing a comprehensive program that addresses how to manage litter and reduce its attraction to bears as a potential food source.

imageIt is vitally important that people never feed black bears. Bears attracted to neighborhoods can learn to associate people with food. These animals can then become nuisance bears that cause property damage, seek flyers from people or become dangerous. Intentionally feeding bears is illegal in New Jersey and carries a fine of up to $1,000.

The DEP offers the following tips for property owners to reduce conflicts with bears:

  • Secure litter and eliminate obvious food sources such as pet food bowls, easily accessible bird feeders, or food scraps left on barbecue grills.
  • Use certified bear-resistant garbage containers if possible. Otherwise, store all trash in containers with tight lids and place them along the inside walls of your garage, or in the basement, sturdy shed or other secure area.
  • Wash litter containers frequently with a disinfectant solution to remove odours. Put rubbish out on collection day, not the night before.
  • Avoid feeding birds when bears are active. If you choose to feed birds, do so only during daylight hours and bring feeders indoors at night. Suspend free-hanging wire bird feeders, making sure they are at least 10 feet off the ground. Clean up spilled seeds and shells daily.
  • Immediately remove all uneaten food and food bowls used by pets that are fed outdoors.
  • Clean grills and outdoor equipment to remove food residue and grease. Store grills safely.
  • Do not put meat or any sweet foods in compost piles.
  • Remove fruit or nuts that fall from trees in your yard.
  • Install electric fencing correctly as an effective way to protect crops, beehives and livestock.

If you encounter a black bear in your neighborhood or outdoors while hiking or camping, follow these safety tips:

  • Stay calm. Never run from a bear, as this may trigger its predatory instinct. Instead, slowly back away. Avoid direct eye contact, which can be seen by a bear as a challenge. Make sure the bear has an escape route.
  • To scare the bear, make loud noises by shouting, using a whistle, banging pots and pans, or blowing an air horn. Make yourself look as big as possible by waving your arms. If you are with someone else, stand close with your arms raised above your head.
  • Make bears aware of your presence by speaking in a firm voice, singing, clapping your hands, or making other noises. If you’re walking through bear country, always make your presence known by talking loudly or clapping your hands.
  • If a bear utters a series of huffs, makes jaw popping noises by snapping its jaws or flanks into the ground, these are warning signs that you are too close. Slowly back away and avoid direct eye contact. Don’t run.
  • If a bear stands on its hind legs or moves closer, it may be trying to get a better view or detect smells in the air. This is usually non-threatening behaviour.
  • Black bears will sometimes “bluff charge” when cornered, threatened, or when trying to steal food. Stand your ground, avoid direct eye contact, slowly back away and don’t run.
  • If the bear won’t leave, move to a safe area, such as a vehicle or building.
  • Families living in areas with black bears should have a “Bear Plan” in place for children, with an escape route and planned use of whistles and air horns.
  • Black bear attacks are extremely rare. If a black bear attacks, fight back.

Report black bear damage or aggressive bears to your local police department or Fish & Wildlife by calling 1-(877) DEP ALERT (1-877-927-6337).

For more information about black bears in New Jersey, visit www.dep.nj.gov/njfw/bears/

Like the DEP Fish and Wildlife Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NewJerseyFishandWildlife

Follow DEP Fish and Wildlife on Instagram @newjerseyfishandwildlife

Follow Commissioner LaTourette on Twitter and Instagram @shawnlatur and follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP, Facebook @newjerseydep, Instagram @nj.dep and LinkedIn @newjerseydep


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