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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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November 20, 2003

Contact: Jack Kaskey


DEP Reminds New Jersey Residents Not to Feed Bears

(03/170) TRENTON - In light of the fact that the number of black bears entering homes in New Jersey has surpassed last year's record level, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell reminds residents not to feed bears. Bears increase their foraging this time of year to put on weight for their winter dormancy.

"Whether or not it is done intentionally, feeding bears is inhumane and dangerous, because it can ultimately lead to aggressive bear behavior," Campbell said. "Once a bear associates people with food, it is only a matter of time before it pursues garbage and food stored in peoples' homes."

So far this year, the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife has documented 58 instances of bears entering homes in North Jersey, three more home entries than last year. In addition, the DEP has documented 21 attempted home entries.

Just last week, a homeowner in West Milford, Passaic County, heard banging at his front door only to find a bear with its face pressed against the screen. A similar looking bear was seen the prior week rooting through the resident's garbage.

Earlier this month, a 400-pound bear marked with yellow ear tags entered a homeowner's garage in Stillwater, Sussex County, by breaking a glass door to get at garbage. A bear of identical description returned the following week, pushing in the plywood where the glass used to be.

Bears have attempted to push in window-mounted air conditioners to gain access to homes, but more often they push through screen doors or windows, or tear the doors off garages. Bears broke into vehicles nine times this year.

Black bears will consume whatever is available, so it is important to keep one's property as temptation-free as possible.

Bear-proofing one's home includes storing garbage in an airtight container in a secure area, such as a basement. Garbage containers should be washed at least once a week with a disinfectant to eliminate odors. Outside feeding of dogs and cats should occur only during daylight, and any uneaten food should be removed immediately. Birdfeeders should be hung from a free-hanging wire at least eight feed above the ground. Barbecue grills should be cleaned to minimize food odors and stored securely.

Bear damage and nuisance complaints may be reported to the DEP's Wildlife Control Unit weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. by calling (908) 735-8793. For the fastest response, residents should call their local police department.



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