HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP -- Reports of bear sightings in Hopewell Township and Pennington over the past 24 hours has prompted a warning from police: leave them alone.
"The department would like to remind everyone to remain 'bear aware,'" police posted on Facebook. "Treat the bears like any other animal and admire them from a distance and do not approach them."
The state's Division of Fish and Wildlife last month said bears recently emerged from hibernation and are searching for food and mates.
Residents are urged to remove any potential food sources that would cause bears to associate people with food, including pet food, dirty barbecue grills, garbage, compost and bird feeders.
Police are encouraging anyone who encounters a bear to follow these safety tips:
- Remain calm and never run from a bear. Instead, slowly back away;
- Avoid direct eye contact and make sure the bear has an escape route;
- To scare the bear away, make loud noises by yelling, using a whistle, banging pots and pans or blowing 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;
- Make bears aware of your presence by speaking in an assertive voice, singing, clapping your hands, or making other noises;
- If a bear enters your home, provide it with ways to get out by propping all doors open;
- The bear may utter a series of huffs, make popping jaw sounds by snapping its jaws and swat the ground -- all warning signs that you are too close. Slowly back away, avoid direct eye contact and do not run;
- If the bear does not leave, move to a secure area such as a vehicle or building;
- Families who live in areas frequented by black bears should have a "Bear Plan" in place for children, with an escape route and planned use of whistles and air horns; and
- Black bear attacks are extremely rare. If a black bear does attack, fight back.
Black bear damage or nuisance behavior can be reported to the Department of Environmental Protection's 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 1-877-WARN-DEP (1-877-927-6337).
Cristina Rojas may be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @CristinaRojasTT. Find NJ.com on Facebook....Read more