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Bear Facts for Homeowners


"Living with New Jersey Black Bears" DVD Now Available

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.

Following are more important tips to avoid attracting bears:

Garbage Management (pdf, 102kb) - Includes links to bear-resistant container manufacturers.
Pet Owners (pdf, 50kb)
Feeding Birds (pdf, 127kb)
Outdoor Grills (pdf, 22kb)
Beehives/Crops/Livestock (pdf, 42kb)
Compost Piles/Vegetable Gardens/Fruit Trees (pdf, 31kb)
Safety Tips (pdf, 22kb)
Additional Tips (pdf, 19kb)

Remember: Never feed 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.

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).

Back to main Bear Facts page

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Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: August 12, 2013