DEP PREPARES FOR FIVE-COUNTY ENFORCEMENT SWEEP
ON ILLEGAL FEEDING OF BLACK BEARS
(07/11) TRENTON - It's illegal to feed black bears in New
Jersey, and state conservation officers, park police and environmental
inspectors will fan out across five counties later this month to
find out if residents and businesses are obeying the law, Department
of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced
"Feeding black bears either intentionally or unintentionally
by carelessly leaving out food or garbage can have serious consequences
for entire neighborhoods. It teaches bears to associate food with
people and encourages them to become a nuisance," Commissioner
Jackson said. "We're working to prevent problems between bears
and people by raising awareness about this law and enforcing it."
In the coming weeks, a cadre of DEP environmental lawmen will canvass
scores of homes and businesses in Sussex, Passaic, Bergen, Morris
and Warren counties to determine if the public is doing all it should
to avoid attracting bears. Conservation officers, environmental
inspectors and park police will ask residents and business owners
a host of questions including how and where they store garbage,
pet-feeding practices and their experiences with bear encounters.
Part of New Jersey's intensified effort to use non-lethal strategies
to manage black bears, the enforcement sweep is being conducted
toward the end of March, as the bears begin emerging from their
winter dens to search for food.
Ransacked garbage cans and birdfeeders account for the vast majority
of bear complaints reported to the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife
during the past eight years. Though the black-bear population is
situated primarily in the northwestern portion of the state, sightings
have been reported in all 21 counties.
The DEP recommends residents and businesses take various steps
to minimize the potential for encounters with bears by using bear-resistant
garbage cans or containers with tight-fitting lids, properly storing
pet and livestock feed and thoroughly cleaning outdoors grills,
To spur compliance with the state's bear-feeding ban, the DEP is
working in cooperation with municipal officials and local police
departments in the five targeted counties.
Under the law, NJSA 23:2A-14, enacted in 2002, people caught deliberately
feeding bears could be fined up to $1,000. Violators receive a written
warning for the first offense, but are subject to a civil penalty
for every subsequent offense.
Because careless food storage and garbage disposal also attracts
bears and increases the likelihood of encounters with people, the
DEP is asking state legislators to strengthen the law by prohibiting
unintentional bear feeding as well. The DEP's request for amendments
to the law includes stricter penalties for feeding black bears.
Last November, Commissioner Jackson said the DEP would fully implement
non-lethal bear-management methods and analyze their effectiveness
before holding another hunt. To support the non-lethal initiative,
Gov. Jon S. Corzine has proposed an $850,000 state-budget appropriation
to fund expanded public education programs, aversive conditioning
and bear research.
For more information, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/pdf/bearcountry.pdf
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