Black bears are preparing for winter and are now actively foraging for food as they prepare for the denning season, say state officials. Bears have been seen in every county in the state including, recently, in the Caldwells and in Cedar Grove.
The Department of Environmental Protection advises residents to eliminate or secure food sources to reduce potential problem encounters with bears this fall, says Commissioner Bob Martin. Feeding bears is illegal in New Jersey.
Guidelines for securing against bears include:
- Invest in bear-proof garbage containers. If not using bear-proof garbage containers, store all garbage in containers with tight fitting lids in a secure area such as a basement, the inside wall of a garage, or a shed.
- Use electric fencing to protect livestock and beehives.
- Put garbage out on collection day, not the evening before.
- Wash garbage containers with a disinfectant at least once a week to eliminate odors. Draping ammonia or bleach soaked cloth over containers will help to eliminate odors.
- Do not place meat or sweet food scraps in compost piles.
- Feed birds only from December 1 to April 1, when bears are least active.
- If you feed birds when bears are active, suspend birdfeeders at least 10 feet off the ground.
- Clean up spilled seeds and shells daily.
- Feed outdoor pets during daylight hours only. Immediately remove all food scraps and bowls after feeding.
- Clean outdoor grills thoroughly after each use. Grease and food residue can attract bears.
- Do not leave food unattended while camping or picnicking.
- Store all food items in coolers inside vehicles where they cannot be seen or in bear-proof food storage lockers at State Park facilities.
- Never feed a black bear. It is dangerous and against the law.
Report bear damage or nuisance behavior to your local police department or to the Division of Fish and Wildlife at (877) 927-6337.