Bear country residents should take precautions to avoid attracting bruins

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:22

    The state Department of Environmental Protection is advising residents and outdoor enthusiasts in North Jersey, especially in areas regularly frequented by black bears, to strictly adhere to guidelines for eliminating or securing potential black bear food sources during the fall period 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, due to localized scarcities of acorns and other tree nuts, which are an important black bear food source. The following simple rules for living in black bear country are offered to help residents minimize conflicts with black bears: Invest in 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. Draping ammonia or bleach soaked cloth over containers will help 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. When 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 all food scraps and bowls after feeding. Clean outdoor grills thoroughly after each use. Grease and food residue can attract bears. Do not leave food unattended while camping or picnicking. Store all food items in coolers inside vehicles where they can not 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 your local police department or to the Division of Fish and Wildlife at 877-927-6337.