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October 5, 2001


For more information contact:
Al Ivany at (609)-292-2084

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds North Jersey residents to keep their surroundings bear-proof throughout the fall season.

"As temperatures drop, black bears become more active foraging for food and searching out den sites in preparation for winter," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "This boost in activity can bring bears closer to areas of human habitation and increase the possibility for human - bear conflicts."

Research conducted by the Division of Fish and Wildlife's Black Bear Research Project shows New Jersey is home to at least 1,400 black bears (spring 2001 estimate) and that the population of bears continues to increase. Bears are also expanding their range south and east into areas they have not inhabited for decades. This year alone, biologists have trapped 143 bears for research purposes and have handled 130 others, for a total of 273 individual animals. Police department personnel and park rangers trained by the Division of Fish and Wildlife have also responded to calls from the public regarding bears under an expanded black bear response program.

Since 1997, the Division of Fish and Wildlife has been providing residents with programs on New Jersey's black bears and distributing written information to people on bears. This year, those efforts were greatly expanded. Two new educators were hired to teach more programs to school groups, civic organizations and the general public, and also to assist with the production of informational material. So far this year, 500,000 "Living In Bear Country" (PDF format - see below) brochures have been updated and printed, and are being distributed to residents. In addition, 200,000 billing inserts for garbage companies on "good housekeeping" in bear country, and 100,000 "You Are In Bear Country" (PDF format - see below) brochures for the state park system and private campgrounds were produced. Radio public service announcements are now being played on several stations in northern New Jersey, and more will be released in the future. Video PSA's for television are also in the works, as is a 5-minute loop video for the state park system which will be used to educate campers and park visitors.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife offers the following tips on "bear - proofing", and reducing problems associated with bears:

To learn more about New Jersey's black bears, visit the Division's website at, call (908)-637-4125 or email Programs for schools and civic organizations are available free of charge, as are brochures and other materials on living in bear country.

* PDF files are viewable with the Adobe Acrobat Reader, available free from Adobe's Web site.