Jersey Residents Urged to Bear-Proof Surroundings This Fall
(03/127) TRENTON - The Department
of Environmental Protection, Division of Fish and Wildlife,
reminds North Jersey residents to bear-proof their homes
and surrounding areas throughout the fall season.
"As temperatures drop, black bears
become more active foraging for food and searching out den
sites in preparation for the winter season," said Environmental
Protection Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "This
boost in activity can bring bears closer to areas of human
habitation and increase the possibility for human-bear conflicts."
It is part of a black bear's behavior to
investigate food sources such as garbage cans, leftover
pet food, bird feeders and barbecue grill drip trays.
"Black bears are opportunistic feeders
and will consume whatever is available, so it is especially
important to keep one's surroundings as temptation-free
as possible," said Division Director Martin J. McHugh.
Bear-proofing should include proper storage
of residential garbage in an airtight container in a secure
area such as a basement or against the inside wall of a
garage. Garbage containers should be washed at least once
a week with a disinfectant solution to remove any odors.
Outside feeding of cats and dogs should
be done during daylight hours and any uneaten food should
be removed immediately after feeding. Birdfeeders should
be hung during daylight hours only, suspended by a free-hanging
wire at least eight feet off the ground. Barbecue grills
should be cleaned to minimize food odors and stored securely.
Campbell stressed the importance of never
"Bears that are fed intentionally
or unintentionally can become aggressive," Campbell
said. "For that reason, it now is unlawful in New Jersey
to feed bears. People who persist in feeding bears will
Individuals should use common sense in
an encounter with a bear. Remain calm and never approach
the animal. Make the bear aware of your presence by talking
or clapping, and always give it an escape route. Nuisance
or damage problems caused by bears should be reported immediately
by calling (908) 735-8793.
Since 1997, the Division has been providing
residents with informational programs on New Jersey's black
bears, as well as distributing millions of pieces of educational
literature. To learn more, visit the Division's website
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.