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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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Contact: Jack Kaskey


(03/35) Trenton— The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) urges residents to be diligent in bear-proofing their surroundings this spring. As the weather slowly warms, black bears become more active as they leave their dens and begin foraging for food.

"Bears are most active in the spring and early summer," said DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell. "In order for residents to avoid problems with bears, precautionary measures must be taken."

The DEP offers the following tips for avoiding problems associated with bears:

  • Store garbage in airtight containers in a secure area such as a basement or against the inside wall of a garage.
  • Wash containers frequently with a disinfectant to eliminate odors that might attract bears.
  • Put garbage out in the morning, not the evening before.
  • If you must hang birdfeeders, hang them at least 10 feet off the ground from a free hanging wire. Birds can find natural foods from the spring through fall seasons.
  • Feed outdoor pets during daylight hours only. Remove all food scraps and bowls immediately after feeding.
  • Thoroughly clean barbecue grills after each use since grease residue and odors can attract bears.
  • Protect beehives and livestock. Electric fencing is sometimes effective in preventing black bear damage.
  • NEVER FEED A BLACK BEAR! It is now illegal to feed black bears in New Jersey and violators are subject to a maximum penalty of $1,000. Bears that are fed either intentionally or unintentionally can become aggressive.
  • Use common sense in a bear encounter. Remain calm, never approach the animal and always give it an escape route.

Report aggressive bears immediately to the NJDEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife at (908)-735-8793. Nuisance or damage problems should also be reported to the same number. Immediate threats to life or property should be reported to your local police department.

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




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Last Updated: July 14, 2010