Know the Bear Facts this Fall!

Black bears are actively looking for food this time of year.

Prevent bear encounters by securing garbage and other attractants!

As the air is getting crisp in late summer and fall, New Jersey’s black bears begin their pre-winter preparations and enter a state of hyperphagia.  What in the bear’s world is that you might ask? It’s when black bears eat huge amounts of food – at least 20,000 calories a day! – to pack on the pounds and build up fat reserves to sustain them during winter denning. To reach this daily nutritional goal, a bear would have to eat 11.5 lbs of acorns, 69.4 lbs of wild cherries, or 46.5 lbs of eastern tent caterpillars.

Acorns, beechnuts, and hickory nuts comprise much of a black bear’s diet this time of year. However, unnatural foods like garbage, bird seed, and pet food can also make an easy meal for a bear. Bears that learn to find food near people may become nuisance bears that cause property damage, seek handouts from people or become dangerous.

Avoid attracting bears with unnatural foods by following these tips:

  • Never feed bears. It is illegal in New Jersey and can carry a penalty of up to $1,000 for each offense.
  • Store all garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids and place them in a secure location where bears are unlikely to see or smell them.
  • Use certified bear-resistant garbage containers. They offer the best protection.
  • Wash garbage containers with a disinfectant solution at least once a week to remove odors.
  • Put out garbage on collection day, not the night before.
  • Empty and clean recyclables before storing them in a secure location.
  • Do not place meat or any sweet foods in compost piles.
  • If you feed pets outside, do so during daylight hours only. Pick up any leftover food and remove bowls after they have finished.
  • Clean outdoor grills and utensils thoroughly after each use. Dispose of grease properly.
  • Only use bird feeders during daylight hours between December 1st and April 1st. Suspend feeders from a free-hanging wire at least 10 ft off the ground and 10 ft from other branches. Bring feeder indoors at night. Clean up spilled seeds and shells.
  • Pick up fruit that falls from fruit trees daily and discard it in secured garbage containers.
  • Consider installing electric fencing to protect crops, beehives, and small livestock.

Report black bear damage or aggressive bears to your local police department or to NJ Fish & Wildlife by calling 1 (877) WARN DEP (1-877-927-6337).

For all of New Jersey's Bear Resources including Bear Safety Tips, Preventing Bear Damage and Bear Basics go to our Know the Bear Facts webpage.

Leave a Reply

Please enter the word you see in the image below: