To reduce the risk of such encounters, State residents - especially those living in "bear country'' in Northwest Jersey - are urged to take some simple precautions.
DEP wildlife experts are offering the following tips to minimize conflicts with bears this spring:
- 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, 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 prior night.
- 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 to minimize odors. 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.
Wildlife experts also offer the following information:
- 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.
- 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.
- Black bear attacks are extremely rare. Should a black bear attack, fight back. Do not play dead.
Report bear damage, nuisance behavior or aggressive bears to the Wildlife Control Unit of the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife at (908) 735-8793. During evenings and weekends, residents should call their local police department or the DEP Hotline at (877) WARN-DEP.
To view the DEP news release concerning this issue visit
To learn more about New Jersey's black bears and ways to avoid problems with them, visit http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/bearinfo.htm