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Black Bears Facts for Kids

Bear with cubs

WHY ALL THE BUZZ ABOUT BLACK BEARS?

Black bears live in New Jersey. They were here long before people were. About 100 years ago, black bears were almost gone from the state because the forests in which they make their homes were being cut down for lumber, farming and towns. Today, there are more black bears and more people than ever before.

Black bears are now recognized as an important natural resource in New Jersey and as part of the state's heritage. They have been sighted throughout the state. People can see bears in forests when they are hiking and camping, and some people even see bears in their yards.

It is important to remember that black bears are large, wild animals. If you see a black bear, you should never go near it. Instead, watch it from far away. Never feed or try to pet a black bear. Black bears learn very quickly. If they learn to associate people with food, they may lose their fear of people, which can be dangerous. Treat black bears with respect.


IF YOU SEE A BEAR

If a bear comes into your yard or you see one while camping, do not be afraid, but remember bears are not tame animals, they are wild creatures.

Here are some tips that you should follow if you see a bear:

  • Do not get scared and do not run.
  • Talk to the bear to let it know you are there.
  • Never feed the bear!
  • Do not go near the black bear.
  • Do not look directly into the bear's eyes.
  • Make sure the bear can get out of your yard or campground easily if it wants to. Don't stand in front of the escape route!
  • Make lots of noise. It could scare the bear away.
  • If you are playing with friends, get in a big group. Talk and wave your arms. You will look really big and the bear might leave.
  • Always tell your parents if you see a bear!

Bears can make a lot of noise, so they may huff, snap their jaws and slap the ground if they think you are too close. Back away slowly.

A bear that stands on its back legs is not about to attack you. It just wants to see and smell you better. Let a bear know you are there by waving your arms and talking to it.

Bears may pretend to attack by running at you. DO NOT RUN! Back away slowly and get to a safe area.

Black bears rarely hurt people. If a black bear attacks, fight back!


GAMES

Click on the following links for some fun games about New Jersey's wildlife, including black bears.

Know the Bear Facts for Kids (pdf, 780kb)
Black Bear Word Search (pdf, 10kb)
Black Bear Crossword Puzzle (pdf, 19kb)
Animal Tracks (pdf, 32kb)

Back to main Bear Facts page

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: September 10, 2009