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Jump In Bear Sightings Across NJ Prompts Warnings, Tips From DEP

Bruins have been reported in residential areas in all 21 counties.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo

With bear sightings in all 21 New Jersey counties and bear-human encounters seeing an increase in 2014, the Department of Environmental Protection has released information to keep residents – and bears – safe while “co-existing with the creatures.”

Bear sightings have increased this year in central and southern New Jersey, including areas like Burlington County, which is outside traditional bear country of northwest New Jersey, the DEP said.

"Please understand that a black bear passing through a residential area should not be considered a problem, as long as it is behaving normally and not posing a threat,” said DEP Senior Wildlife Biologist Kelcey Burguess in a statement.

It’s illegal to intentionally feed black bears in New Jersey and punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, but the more common problem, according to the DEP, is the unintentional feeding of the bruins by homeowners. Residents are urged to secure their trash and eliminate other sources of food, including domesticated pets’ dishes out on the deck or in the yard.

Easy-to-reach bird feeders or food residue left in barbecues can also attract the bears, the DEP said.

The following additional tips are also offered:

Use certified bear-resistant garbage containers if possible. Otherwise, store all garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids and place them along the inside walls of your garage, or in the basement, a sturdy shed or other secure area.
  • Wash garbage containers frequently with a disinfectant solution to remove odors. Put out garbage on collection day, not the night before.
  • Avoid feeding birds when bears are active. If you choose to feed birds, do so during daylight hours only and bring feeders indoors at night. Suspend birdfeeders from a free-hanging wire, making sure they are at least 10 feet off the ground. Clean up spilled seeds and shells daily.
  • Immediately remove all uneaten food and food bowls used by pets fed outdoors.
  • Clean outdoor grills and utensils to remove food and grease residue. Store grills securely.
  • Do not place meat or any sweet foods in compost piles.
  • Remove fruit or nuts that fall from trees in your yard.
  • Properly installed electric fencing is an effective way of protecting crops, beehives and livestock.
  • If you encounter a bear remain calm and do not run. Make sure the bear has an escape route. Avoid direct eye contact, back up slowly and speak with a low, assertive voice.

Anyone who comes across an aggressive bear, nuisance behavior, or needs to report bear damage can contact the Wildlife Control Unit of the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife by calling 908-735-8793. During evenings and weekends, call your local police department or the DEP hotline at 877-WARN-DEP.

Lucretia B June 29, 2014 at 07:18 AM
Oh, don't give me the bee sting analogy, will ya? This morning I envisioned my Jack Russell Terrier coming across a Mama black bear and cub in the back yard. We were shocked and frozen at the sight....but can you just imagine what a mama bear would do if she felt her cub was in danger from me or my dog? So lets all get real. These animals can be dangerous and do not deserve to run free. I did not buy my property to have this happen. I bought it to raise my family and pets.
William June 29, 2014 at 07:48 AM
Maureeen you are right I do not know you but thanks for The Wikipedia description and information you took the time to post, My information comes from some 65 years of Wild life interaction Year round. 63 Hunting in NJ, 1st place Trophy NJ Buck holder. My Son and daughter both have licensed Guns and are proficient shooters Been around Guns all my Life. I Come from a long line of family Hunters, with Generation History in America dating back to Revolutionary Times, I have watched how Wildlife has changed in NJ from times of scarcity to over populations, How management and introduction has contributed to some of NJs problems. As some land was lost to development some has been added to conservation, Some by Hunting & Fishing Licences, Also with Family Living in Alaska From Bush to some civilized areas for close to 60 years + or - who have lived Hunted interacted with The many different Bears Alaska has to offer, Not by same controlled study, I have encountered Bears in Alaska and New Jersey and yes very up close and personal with family. and Pictures, And never once did any of them become aggressive the encounters were in the open they were not cornered, I have seen the damage they can do to personal property. And Attack on Those members in Cooper landing Alaska where the Brown Bear LOST its Life, which is documented, The people Fresh water fishing are mostly very Armed for a reason, mostly because of a mistake a Tourist makes around the bears, Shooting any bear in Alaska out of Season and The weight of the law will come down very hard, from Jail. heavy fines. lose of any personal property involved Car-Boat- Plane- Fire Arms, That information is for those in NJ that feel the need to shoot a Bear out of season, Maureen I could go on and on About actual personal experiences learned over many years, and enjoy talking about them. The facts and statistics are all well and good but do little to elevate the concerns many have with Bears in NJ, Plus The vast majority could care less only those in the close proximity or that have been exposed to them have concerns and some Fears of them. Want to be up close a personal to a NJ Bear? Camp at Worthington State Park, Or Camp Tailor same area and when at Camp Taylor take a look at their photo album that contains 100s of the bears that visited tore up Camp sites looking for Food Not People, Both Places I and family have had been up close and personal with mostly Female bears with her Cubs up to 3 cubs at a time , But she would never allow her cubs close Humans always at a distance even up a tree while she went shopping site to site, Even Had one Take my Cooler right from in front of us, still have that cooler with her Teeth marks in it, With the 1000s that camp these areas not one has been attacked Threatened, Bluffed For Sure but those were there Fault not the Bears, Sorry for the Long explanation but that is my Knowledge of NJ & Alaska Bears over all. Fact MORE MOOSE KILL HUMANS IN ALASKA THEN BEARS COMBINED,. OFF Subject Just on News now Pit Bull Dog attack Kills another Dog in Bayridge, Not a law Violation but a Civil one. How may attacks are they responsible for and still no Controls. I would Have no qualms of Killing any animal attacking any humane being or Pet..Have a nice day.
Lucretia B June 30, 2014 at 02:13 PM
Id love to sit here and read your book all day long but there are other important subjects worth reading. I think you have abused your freedom of speech.
Johnny Bear July 02, 2014 at 02:05 PM
Hey Lucretia, you sound nastier than the bears! And to say "I didn't buy my property to have this happen" You obviously have abused your freedom of speech due to stupidity.
William July 02, 2014 at 04:43 PM
Lucraptia You read My book what is any more important then My words Of Wit, Why even bother to reply but to show your Stupidity sorry about that some one else also saw that point, How about &&^^%$ and *^^$# that describes you better. now don't waste your important time reading this A-H

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