Residents of Barry Lakes have an opportunity to live in a community that is teaming with wildlife and this includes Black Bears. As with all wild creatures, common sense and respect for their environment is a must if we expect to co-exist with one another.
The most important element to remember in the bear issue is never attempt to feed a bear. Feeding also includes proper control of your household refuse. Due to the keen sense of smell a bear possesses, bear resistant cans are your best control method, with storage inside a garage or shed the next consideration. Bears learn very quickly. Black Bears that associate food with people may become aggressive and dangerous. This may lead to personal injury, property damage and the need to euthanize problem animals.
The following advice is offered to anyone that may encounter a Black Bear, whether it is one that visits your property, or you meet while enjoying an outdoor experience.
1. Remain calm. Being a timid creature, most bears are easily frightened into leaving.
2. Never approach the animal and observe only from a distance. Make your presence known through hand clapping, talking, singing or making other loud sounds.
3. Make sure the bear is not cornered and has an open, easy escape route.
4. The bear may utter a series of huffs, snap (pop) its jaws and swat the ground. These are all warning signs that you are too close. Slowly back away.
5. If a bear stands on its hind legs, it is merely trying to get a better view rather than acting in a threatening manner.
6. Black Bears will sometimes "bluff charge" when cornered, threatened or attempting to obtain food. Stand your ground and slowly back away.
7. If you encounter a bear at close range, remain standing upright, avoid direct eye contact, back up slowly and speak in a calm, assertive voice.
8. If the bear will not leave, move to your car or house, if available. If not, follow rules as in number 7 above.
9. Report all bear damage and repeated nuisance incidents to the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife at 908-735-8793.