Being Bear Smart is not complicated. Through simple measures and basic education the incidence of human/bear interactions can be greatly reduced. Creating a Bear Smart community requires participation on the part of private homeowners, businesses, campgrounds and public policy officials.
Proper management of unnatural food sources for bears is imperative. It's also the law. It's easy to keep food away from a bear through the use of bear resistant garbage cans and dumpsters and good old common sense. Comply with NJSA 23:2A-14, the black bear feeding ban law.
Dispose of Garbage Properly
Yards and Green Spaces
Fruit Trees and Berry Bushes
Citronella, Hot Tub Covers, Petroleum Products
Salt and Mineral Blocks
Aversive Conditioning is a behavior modification technique used to teach bears that they are unwelcomed in certain areas and to reinstill the bears’ natural fear of humans.
This technique, pioneered by Wildlife Management Officer Steven Searles of Mammoth Lakes, California, is endorsed by the federal government. Police officers here in New Jersey and in many other parts of the U.S., Canada and British Columbia have been trained in aversive conditioning using rubber bullets, buckshot and pyrotechnic devices to condition bears. You can read more about Steve and his program at his website, Bear Whisperer.
Bears who are caught in the act of raiding garbage cans or birdfeeders and bears who are frequenting areas they shouldn’t (i.e., schools, restaurants, etc.) can be taught that interacting with humans will result in harassment. They will quickly learn to associate these “off-limit” locations with “punishment” and will retreat to the woods, forests and swamps that are their natural homes.
Generally practiced by wildlife, law enforcement and animal control professionals, members of the public can also employ basic aversive conditioning techniques.
What you do depends on where you see the bear.
IN RESIDENTIAL AREAS:
Most bears are just passing through. Let them pass and do nothing.
Don’t feed bears. It only encourages them to stay and it is against the law!
If a bear gets too close to your home or if you simply don't want him in your yard, you can use basic aversive conditioning techniques. Allowing a bear to linger while you hide in the house watching only teaches him that HE is the boss, not you. Make whatever efforts with which you are comfortable to assert your dominance over the bear and to make coming in your yard an uncomfortable experience for him. Being assertive towards the bears through body language will be very helpful in teaching bears to fear YOU.
Start intense and vary your tactics if the bear is persistent. Assume a dominant posture by waving your arms, opening an umbrella, stomping your feet and yelling. Blow air horns or whistles, shake bells, pots and pans, coins in a tin can or otherwise create a loud noisy environment. You can also use supersoaker water guns or garden hoses to scare the bear away.
Teach your children to wave their arms and stomp their feet, and then walk slowly to the house if a bear is present.
IN THEIR NATURAL HABITAT:
Encountering a bear in the wild is not that common. Most people are thrilled to see one.
Take a picture or do nothing – remember, you are in his home.
Allow the bear to walk away.
Don’t corner the bear.
Don’t feed the bear!
You can also frighten the bear away by waving your arms, stomping your feet and yelling.
Treasure the moment.
Learn more about your black bear neighbors. Understanding bear behavior can give insight on why they do what they do and how you can interpret their actions. Education allows the public to enjoy these beautiful animals and their place in our state. Modifying your behavior will modify the bear’s behavior. When you know what to do, how to properly act and react, the bear will learn from you.
Since 1992, the Bear Group has been providing free, non-political public educational programs to residents, police and many civic organizations.
Our Bear Smart Community educational program is full of information about black bears and simple ways to avoid encounters. Participants learn that black bears are timid and generally afraid of people. They also learn simple ways to prevent bears from frequenting residential neighborhoods.
Our mission is to educate residents about black bears, reduce unwarranted fears, and increase tolerance of our bear neighbors. Our program fosters a peaceful co-existence and replaces fear with respect and understanding. We also provide free literature.
If your group, organization, or community is interested in having an black bear educational presentation, please contact our Speakers Bureau.
Our program is based on the scientific research of world-renowned black bear expert Dr. Lynn Rogers, PhD, of the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota. Dr. Rogers has been studying black bears for over 40 years.
Rogers maintains two excellent websites. Bear.org provides basic education on bears, and debunks myths and miconceptions. For those who want to learn more and go a step further, he provides research and courses at BearStudy.org.
Animal Protection League of NJ
PO Box 186
Glen Gardner, NJ 08826
Education reduces unwarranted fears and allows the public to enjoy these beautiful animals and their place in our state. Modifying your behavior will modify the bear’s behavior. When you know what to do, how to properly act and react, the bear will learn from you.read our report