SUMMIT, NJ - The Summit Police Department has advised residents that a black bear was seen wandering in the area of Blackburn Road. which is located in the western part of the city near the New Providence border. The sighting occurred on May 18.
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection wildlife experts stress that a black bear passing through a residential area should not be considered a problem, as long as it is behaving normally and not posing a threat. They offer the following tips to minimize conflicts with bears this spring:
- Use certified bear-resistant garbage containers if possible. Otherwise, store all garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids and place them along the inside walls of your garage, or in the basement, a sturdy shed or other secure area.
- Wash garbage containers frequently with a disinfectant solution to remove odors. Put out garbage on collection day, not the night before.
- Avoid feeding birds when bears are active. If you choose to feed birds, do so during daylight hours only and bring feeders indoors at night. Suspend birdfeeders from a free-hanging wire, making sure they are at least 10 feet off the ground. Clean up spilled seeds and shells daily.
Immediately remove all uneaten food and food bowls used by pets fed outdoors.
- Clean outdoor grills and utensils to remove food and grease residue. Store grills securely.
- Do not place meat or any sweet foods in compost piles.
- Remove fruit or nuts that fall from trees in your yard.
Black bears by nature tend to be wary of humans and avoid people. However, if you encounter a black bear in your neighborhood, follow these common-sense safety tips.
- Never feed or approach a bear.
- Remain calm.
- Make the bear aware of your presence by speaking in an assertive voice, singing, clapping your hands, or making other noises.
- Make sure the bear has an escape route.
- If a bear enters your home, provide it with an escape route by propping all doors open.
- Avoid direct eye contact, which may be perceived by a bear as a challenge. Never run from a bear. Instead, slowly back away.
- To scare the bear away, make loud noises by yelling, banging pots and pans or using an air horn. Make yourself look as big as possible by waving your arms. If you are with someone else, stand close together with your arms raised above your head.
- 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 close. 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.
- Black bears will sometimes “bluff charge” when cornered, threatened or attempting to steal food.
- Stand your ground, avoid direct eye contact, then slowly back away and do not run.
- If the bear does not leave, move to a secure area.
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). Black bear attacks are extremely rare. If a black bear does attack, fight back.
While it is perfectly appropriate for city residents seeing a bear to notify the Summit Police Department, it should be understood that the police department’s response to such incidents are limited unless the black bear becomes a nuisance or an immediate threat to human life.
Individuals wishing to obtain more information about black bears in New Jersey are encouraged to go to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Agency’s website at http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/bearfacts.htm.