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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 17, 2005

Contact: Karen Hershey
(609) 984-1795

DEP ANNOUNCES PROGRAM TO MANAGE BEAR COMPLAINTS

Town of West Milford to Receive 200K to Purchase Bear Resistant Garbage Cans

(05/79) TRENTON -- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today presented West Milford Township, Passaic County with a $200,000 grant to purchase bear resistant garbage cans and help minimize bear problems throughout the state. Township officials plan to acquire the cans in the fall, a time when bear nuisance complaints in West Milford are at their highest.

"One of the best ways to discourage nuisance bears is by storing garbage properly," said Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "These bear resistant cans will not only help reduce bear garbage problems in West Milford, it will also provide useful data regarding the effectiveness of using bear resistant garbage cans to keep bears in their natural habitat-away from residential neighborhoods."

"These cans will help us better manage our bear problems and improve the quality of life for West Milford residents," said West Milford Township Mayor Joseph Di Donato.

Cans will be distributed to every household free of charge in six West Milford neighborhoods where bear incidents have been particularly high in recent years. The remainder of the funding will go toward subsidizing the purchase of cans for the entire municipality. Residents will be able to purchase bear resistant garbage cans for a nominal fee.

"Public education and responsible garbage management are among the many important tools we need to employ in the comprehensive management of our black bear population in New Jersey," said Martin Mchugh, Director of DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife. "This pilot project will help evaluate the benefits of community wide education and garbage management."

The Department will compare bear nuisance data in the test communities with data gathered from "control" communities, that is, communities that are not saturated with bear resistant garbage cans. Before and after surveys will allow DEP to evaluate the effectiveness of the cans as part of a comprehensive strategy for minimizing bear-human interactions in towns and communities throughout New Jersey.

The pilot program also includes an educational component to inform West Milford residents about how to live in bear country. Important facts about black bear behavior, habitat needs and ways of avoiding conflict will be distributed to residents in town mailings.

Joining the Commissioner at today's event were Councilman Joseph Elcavage, Township Administrator Richard Kunze and other Town officials.

In 2003 and 2004, there were 198 bear damage and nuisance complaints reported in West Milford.

To date, DEP has trained more than 600 law enforcement personnel from towns and public agencies in bear response protocol and techniques.

To learn more about New Jersey's black bears, visit DEP's Web site at: www.njfishandwildlife.com.

 

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Last Updated: June 17, 2005