Black bears are the largest land mammal in New Jersey. They are an integral part of the state's natural heritage and a vital component of healthy ecosystems.
Since the 1980s the Garden State's black bear population has been increasing and expanding its range both southward and eastward from the forested areas of northwestern New Jersey. Within the most densely populated state in the nation, black bears are thriving and there are now confirmed bear sightings in all 21 of New Jersey's counties.
Division of Fish and Wildlife personnel use an integrated approach to managing New Jersey's black bear population, fostering coexistence between people and bears.
The most common bear problem New Jersey's residents experience is black bears getting into their garbage. Bears are attracted to neighborhoods by garbage odors, so properly securing your garbage is one of the best ways to prevent bears from becoming a nuisance in your community.
Residents are encouraged to work within their community to make sure all garbage is secured and kept away from bears. For tips on proper garbage management and coexisting with bears, visit: www.njfishandwildlife.com/bearfacts_avoid.htm
Avoid Attracting Bears
Black bears are attracted by odors from potential food sources created by people. Carefully controlling these sources of food and associated odors can help prevent black bears from being attracted to people's property and teaching them to associate people with food.
Residents can take simple, practical precautions to avoid attracting black bears and to discourage the animals from becoming a nuisance. Learn more about what you can do to prevent bear encounters at your home, in your municipality, on your farm and while camping and hiking by visiting the following pages.
Bear-Resistant Trash Container Manufacturers
The following companies produce bear-resistant trash containers. The list is intended to be informational and does not have the endorsement of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.
The Division encourages the use of certified bear-resistant trash containers. Certified bear-resistant trash containers have passed a formal testing procedure that has been developed by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee.
For more information on the Bear Resistant Products Testing Program and the current list of products that have passed testing, please visit the following link: www.igbconline.org/index.php/safety-in-grizzly-country/bear-resistant-products
Bearicuda Bins, Inc.
Bear Necessities Waste & Food Storage, Inc.
Carson Valley Welding - "No Bear Can" Trash Enclosure
Colorado Correctional Industries
Haul-All Equipment Systems
History of Black Bears in New Jersey
The American black bear is native to New Jersey. Prior to European settlement black bears lived in forested regions throughout the state. As European settlement progressed, forests were cleared for towns, farming and lumber. Black bears were killed indiscriminately by settlers to protect their crops and livestock. Loss of habitat and indiscriminate killing caused the black bear population to sharply decline throughout the 1800s.
In 1953, the New Jersey Fish and Game Council classified the black bear as a game animal, affording it protection from indiscriminate killing. Limited hunting was legal for black bear until 1971 when the Council, based on an assessment by Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) biologists, closed the hunting season.
DFW biologists began conducting research on New Jersey's black bears in 1980. Over the last 35 years, the Garden State's black bear population has been increasing and expanding its range southward and eastward from the forested areas of northwestern New Jersey. The population has grown due to increased black bear habitat as agricultural land reverted to mature forests, protection afforded by game animal status, and bears dispersing into New Jersey from increasing populations in Pennsylvania and New York. Additionally, the state's black bears have some of the largest litters and highest reproductive rates in the nation. Today, black bears can be found throughout the state.
Since 1980, the DFW has steadily increased its efforts to responsibly manage our large and expanding black bear population and to be responsive to the increasing conflicts between bears and people. Since Fiscal Year 2001, DFW has spent more than $9 million on black bear management. This includes $5.5 million of general treasury funds and $3.5 million from the Hunters and Anglers Fund and federal grants. The Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy allowed for annual hunting seasons, to be evaluated after the 2014 season concludes.
DFW's bear management strategy is an integrated approach that includes research and monitoring, non-lethal and lethal control of problem bears, public education on how to coexist with bears, enforcement of laws designed to reduce bear related conflicts, and bear population control.
In September, 2014, a fatal predatory black bear attack occured in West Milford, Passaic County, resulting in the death of a 22-year old male. It is the first documented bear fatality in New Jersey's history.
Though extremely rare, such attacks have and do occur throughout black bear habitat in North America.
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