Posted Monday, March 25th, 2019

Schedule a Bear Education Seminar

Black bear with trash bag in its mouth

The New Jersey DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is offering “Know the Bear Facts” educational seminars for constituents to learn practical information about coexisting with black bears.

Seminars are free of charge and available to municipalities.

Attendees can learn about the history and biology of bears and learn common-sense tips on how to react when encountering a bear, as well as precautions residents can take to discourage a bear from entering a property.

More information about this program can be found in the attached. If you would like to schedule a bear education seminar, or to receive bear publications, please contact Michelle Smith at (609) 259-6961 or [email protected].

The Division of Fish and Wildlife offers the following tips for property owners to minimize encounters with bears:

  • Secure trash and eliminate obvious sources of food, such as pet food, easy-to-reach bird feeders, or food residue in barbecue grills.
  • 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 a 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 do 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.
  • black bear and trash canImmediately 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.
  • Install electric fencing as an effective way to protect crops, beehives, and livestock.

If you encounter a black bear in your neighborhood or outdoors while hiking, fishing or camping, follow these safety tips:

  • Remain calm. Never run from a bear. Instead, slowly back away. Avoid direct eye contact, which may be perceived by a bear as a challenge. Make sure the bear has an escape route.
  • To scare the bear away, make loud noises by yelling, using a whistle, banging pots and pans, or sounding an air horn. Make yourself look as big as possible by waving your arms. If you are with someone else, stand close together with your arms raised above your head.
  • Make bears aware of your presence by speaking in an assertive voice, singing, clapping your hands, or making other noises. If hiking through bear country, always make your presence known through loud talking or clapping of hands.
  • The bear may utter a series of huffs, make popping sounds by snapping its jaws and swatting the ground. These are warning signs that you are too close. Slowly back away, avoid direct eye contact. Do not run.
  • If a bear stands on its hind legs or moves closer, it may be trying to get a better view or detect scents in the air. This is usually not a threatening behavior.
  • Black bears will sometimes “bluff charge” when cornered, threatened, or attempting to steal food. Stand your ground, avoid direct eye contact, then slowly back away and do not run.
  • If the bear does not leave, move to a secure area such as a vehicle or a building.
  • Families who live in areas frequented by black bears should have a “Bear Plan” in place for children, with an escape route and planned use of whistles and air horns.
  • Black bear attacks on humans are extremely rare. If a black bear does attack, fight back.

Morris Residents: Learn the Facts About Black Bears

DEP wildlife experts emphasize that a black bear simply passing through an area and not causing a specific problem, such as breaking into trash or otherwise trying to access food sources on people’s properties or posing a safety threat, should be left alone.

People should leave the area and allow the bear to continue on its way. When frightened, bears may seek refuge by climbing trees. If the bear does go up a tree, clear the area and give the bear time to climb down and escape.

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 the local police department or the DEP Hotline at 877-WARN-DEP (877-927-6337)

For more information about black bears, visit www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/bearfacts.htm.