FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2023
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795
Vincent Grassi (609) 984-1795
(23/P020) TRENTON – The Department of Environmental Protection is reminding residents and outdoor enthusiasts to take steps to reduce the potential for encounters with black bears as the animals emerge from winter dens. The DEP is also expanding its multimedia “Know the Bear Facts” outreach campaign to enhance information on ways for property owners and outdoor enthusiasts to stay safe throughout the year.
“People can reduce the likelihood of attracting bears if they diligently bear-proof their property by removing or properly securing any potential food sources,” DEP Fish & Wildlife Assistant Commissioner David Golden said. “It is also critically important for people to never feed black bears. Feeding bears is dangerous, illegal and may result in bears becoming aggressive.”
“We are launching our educational outreach campaign just before the start of spring, when bears are very active. People who live in or visit areas of the state where bears are out and about should be alert to their presence and take steps to avoid interactions with them,” said DEP Fish & Wildlife Black Bear Outreach Coordinator Michelle Smith. “Properly secure your garbage to prevent bears from looking at your property as a food source and become familiar with ways to avoid encounters and how to react if an encounter occurs.”
NJDEP ’s Fish & Wildlife will implement its multimedia black bear safety outreach campaign that includes messages in English and Spanish providing bear safety tips and public service announcements on social media, TV streaming services, radio broadcasts, the program’s bear safety webpage and email blasts. The information will be in the form of animated GIFs, short video clips and graphics.
The statewide marketing campaign will build upon last year’s successful black bear outreach initiative, which drew more than 59,000 new users to Fish & Wildlife’s bear safety website and garnered more than 18 million impressions. It will also be expanded to run from March 15 to November 15, increasing the timeframe of the campaign to eight months compared to four months last year and coinciding with peak periods of bear activity.
The DEP continues to advance non-lethal management methods for black bears and significantly increase its public education and outreach efforts, including the development and implementation of the statewide multimedia outreach campaign.
In addition to the outreach campaign, two DEP programs, Fish & Wildlife and Sustainable Waste Management, have brought on additional staff to further educate the public about black bears in New Jersey and how to avoid conflicts with them. These staff will provide guidance to counties and municipalities on reducing human-bear interactions and developing a comprehensive program that addresses waste management and ways to reduce it as a potential food source for bears.
“The Division of Sustainable Waste Management looks forward to working with Fish & Wildlife staff on this important issue and helping New Jersey residents learn ways to minimize conflicts with black bears by securing bear-resistant waste containers and educating residents on best practices for managing waste, in coordination with local government partners,” said Division of Sustainable Waste Management Director Janine MacGregor.
Reducing the presence of trash in unsecured waste containers and other food sources, such as pet food, bird seed or even small livestock, is essential because bears will learn to associate food with people and their homes and begin to forage in neighborhoods for food. These nuisance bears can cause property damage, approach humans for food and become dangerous. Intentionally feeding bears is illegal in New Jersey and carries a fine of up to $1,000.
Most of New Jersey's black bears live in the northwest portion of the state, particularly Morris, Sussex, Warren and northern Passaic counties, and portions of Hunterdon, Somerset and Bergen counties. However, black bears have been sighted in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties.The next phase of the outreach campaign, focusing on outdoor recreationists in bear country, will be featured in the summer months starting in June.
The DEP offers the following tips for property owners to minimize conflicts with bears:
If you encounter a black bear in your neighborhood or outdoors while hiking or camping, follow these safety tips:
Report black bear damage or aggressive bears to your local police department or to Fish & Wildlife by calling 1-(877) WARN DEP (1-877-927-6337).
For more information about black bears in New Jersey, visit dep.nj.gov/njfw/bears/.
Like New Jersey Fish & Wildlife’s Facebook page at facebook.com/NewJerseyFishandWildlife.
Follow New Jersey Fish & Wildlife on Instagram @newjerseyfishandwildlife.
Follow Commissioner LaTourette on Twitter and Instagram @shawnlatur and follow the DEP on Twitter @NewJerseyDEP, Facebook @newjerseydep, Instagram @nj.dep and LinkedIn @newjerseydep