New Jersey residents, especially those in areas frequented by black bears, should take steps to avoid attracting bears with food or garbage. This is the best way to prevent black bears from becoming a nuisance near your home.
Some residents may observe black bears using yards as part of their natural travel corridors. The mere presence of a black bear is not considered a problem. Generally, bears tend to be wary of people. It is important not to leave out any food or garbage that may encourage bears to linger in residential areas. One person feeding bears can create a problem bear that may affect the entire neighborhood.
Black bears learn very quickly and bears that are fed intentionally or unintentionally by carelessly leaving out food or garbage will associate people with food. Bears will eat almost anything including human food, garbage, pet food, birdseed and small livestock. Once they find an easily accessible food source, like garbage in a housing development, they will lose their wariness of people and may return to the available food source. These bears can become a nuisance or aggressive and may have to be trapped and aversively conditioned or destroyed.
Important Tips to Avoid Attracting Bears
It’s illegal in New Jersey, and it’s dangerous. Anyone feeding bears could face a penalty of up to $1,000 for each offense.
- If you live in an area with a large black bear population, close all windows and doors in your house when you are cooking or you are away.
- Have a “Bear Plan” in place for children including the use of whistles, air horns and an escape route.
- Consider installing motion sensor lighting to try to frighten bears away if they enter your yard.
- Other items you can use to try to scare bears out of your yard include air horns and banging pots and pans.
- Maintain a safe distance when attempting to scare bears out of your yard. Try shouting, clapping, stomping the ground and making other loud noises to deter bears.
- Refer to Bear Encounters to know what to do if you encounter a bear at your home or while hiking or camping.
- Consider starting a Neighborhood Watch to keep residents alerted to bears in the area. A Watch can also help to ensure that no one is intentionally or unintentionally feeding black bears. One person feeding bears can create a problem bear that may affect the entire neighborhood.