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Time to be Bear Aware Again

Posted: October 21, 2011

New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued an advisory regarding black bears and ways to minimize conflict with them during the fall as they forage for food prior to going in to hibernation for the winter months.

According to the release, black bears may be especially on the hunt this season for high calorie foods due to localized scarcities of acorns and other tree nuts.

To reduce the likelihood of attracting bears, residents are urged not to feed bears and to “bear-proof” their surroundings. Feeding bears—whether intentional or unintentional—invites trouble...and it only takes a few households with unsecured food for bears to create a nuisance bear that could affect an entire neighborhood.

The DEP offers the following tips:

  • 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.
  • Feed birds only from December 1 to April 1, when bears are least 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.

Report bear damage, nuisance behavior or aggressive bears to the police or the DEP Hotline at (877) WARN-DEP.

Want more information about how to be bear aware? The New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife provides a useful repository of informational materials about living in “bear country.”