ROXBURY, NJ - Port Morris is a lovely place, but it's not views of Lake Musconetcong that are attracting black bears to the hamlet. It's the bear-friendly behavior of some residents, police said today.

In a Facebook post, the police department said it has responded to "several sightings of a mother bear and her four cubs" in Port Morris. As is the case in most instances of bear sightings and complaints, the state Division of Fish and Wildlife was contacted to investigate, said the police.

They said division biologists "have been out to the neighborhood and suggested we need to remove the reason" the bears keep returning. "And the reason is FOOD," said police.

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"It is possible to coexist with the bears, but the most effective way to prevent interactions is to avoid attracting bears to your property," the department pointed out. It gave some tips along those lines:

  • Clean out garbage cans routinely with ammonia.
  • Do not make it easy for the bears to get into the cans by adequately locking the lid. 
  • If you feed your dog or cat outside, once they are done to bring the bowls inside. 
  • Do not hang bird feeders any lower than 10 feet off the ground, when bears stand up they will be able to reach anything lower than 10 feet.

Police said people should call if the bears don't leave. They said they will "respond to assist in conditioning the bear from returning to the area," a reference to using various techniques, such as rubber bullets and pyrotechnics (essentially, fireworks) to scare the bruins and make them afraid to return.