Be Bear Aware

For additional information on how to handle all wildlife that may wander into your backyard, please visit the NJ Fish & Wildlife here.

Be Bear Aware

According to the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, black bears are the largest land mammal in New Jersey, as well as 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," the agency's website states.

"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. 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."

The state offers the following safety tips when it comes to bears.

  • Do not feed or approach bears.
  • Remain calm if you encounter a bear. Don't run from it.
  • Make the bear aware of your presence by speaking assertively, singing, clapping your hands, or making other noises.
  • If a bear enters your home, provide it with an escape route by propping all doors open.
  • Avoid direct eye contact, which the bear may perceive as a challenge. Slowly back away.
  • The bear may utter a series of huffs, make popping jaw sounds by snapping its jaws, and swat the ground. These are warning signs that you are too near. Slowly back away, avoid direct eye contact, and 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. It is usually not a threatening behavior.
  • Report black bear damage or nuisance behavior to the DEP's 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-877-WARN DEP (1-877-927-6337).