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Observe black bear guidelines to eliminate food sources this fall

From New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife

-- Residents and outdoor enthusiasts in North Jersey, especially in areas regularly frequented by black bears, are advised to strictly adhere to guidelines for eliminating or securing potential black bear food sources fall when bears feed extensively to build fat layers for hibernation.

Black bears may be especially on the hunt this season for high calorie foods, such as food scraps in household trash and bird seed from outdoor bird feeders, because of localized scarcities of acorns and other tree nuts, important black bear food sources.

Following rules for living in black bear country--particularly Morris, Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, northern Passaic, northern Somerset and western Bergen counties --will help minimize conflicts with black bears:

* Use bear-proof garbage containers. If not using bear-proof garbage containers, store all garbage in containers with tight fitting lids in a secure area such as a basement, the inside wall of a garage, or a shed.

* Put garbage out on collection day, not the evening before.

* Wash garbage containers with a disinfectant at least once a week to eliminate odors. Drape an ammonia or bleach soaked cloth over containers to eliminate odors.

* Do not place meat or sweet food scraps in compost piles.

* Feed birds only from Dec. 1 to April 1 when bears are least active.

* For feeding birds when bears are active, suspend bird feeders at least 10 feet off the ground. Clean up spilled seeds and shells daily.

* Feed outdoor pets during daylight hours only. Immediately remove food scraps and bowls after feeding.

* Clean outdoor grills thoroughly after each use. Grease and food residue attracts bears.

* Do not leave food unattended while camping or picnicking.

* Store all food items in coolers inside vehicles where they cannot be seen or in bear-proof food storage lockers at State Park facilities

* Never feed a black bear. It is dangerous and against the law.

* Report bear damage or nuisance behavior to a local police department or to the Division of Fish and Wildlife at (877) 927-6337.

For more information see the NJDEP news release at http://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2011/11_0117.htm .

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