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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2003

Contact: Jack Kaskey
(609) 984-1795

North 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 feeding bears.

"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 be prosecuted."

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 at www.njfishandwildlife.com 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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