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The Black Bear in Northwest New Jersey

By Linda Mullin

If you have yet to see a black bear up close, you're missing an exquisite example of nature's beauty and majesty. Here in the Skylands region of New Jersey some residents can catch a glimpse right in their own backyards. They are the most common bear in North America and are certainly not strangers to the Garden State. The black bear is present in 11 of the 21 counties. In northern New Jersey this regal creature maintains its presence as a valuable asset as well as a symbol of the last remaining wilderness areas.


Photo: Paul Langenbach

American black bear are approximately five feet long and vary in weight. Females range from 200 to 300 pounds and males are 350 to as much as 600 pounds depending on age, availability of food and time of the year. They are not necessarily black, but may be brown or even cinnamon-colored. Luckily, they are much better than the brown bear at coexisting with humans. Black bears are not typically aggressive. They will usually flee when confronted. They are generally solitary animals except for breeding and raising their young. The black bear population in the Skylands region has risen to 50 times what is was two decades ago. It is at an estimated all-time high of 1,000 animals and growing. There are 600 bears tagged by the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife in New Jersey. Using current information on birth, death and survival rates on the tagged bears, it is estimated their numbers will continue to rise. Humans have taken over much of the bear's original habitat. The loss of their homes has forced the bears to adapt to humans. And this highly intelligent creature has done just that.

In New Jersey the black bear lives in the wild without any specific designation. Black bear prefer to live in dense cover, such as forests, cedar swamps, thickets, brush and clear cuts populated with saplings. Their choice of home range is determined by the types and availability of food. They roam throughout the summer in search of food sources. Females will travel roughly 10 square miles, and males may go up to 50 square miles from home. Several bears may share the same territory if there is enough food to go around, but the dominant male will defend his territory fiercely. Black bears are excellent tree climbers, even as cubs, and use trees to escape danger. They are also highly adaptable within their habitat; they can live in both arid and moist forests. Although much of the bear's historical habitat has now been populated by humans, this ingenious animal has managed not only to survive but to thrive. Black bears generally live about 10 years, though a few may survive twice that period. The most important known mortality factor for the black bear is vehicle kills. According to the Division of Fish and Game, 46 road-killed bears were recovered in 1999. In New Jersey, black bear commonly live into their teens, which may be due to the abundance of food in this area. According to Patrick Carr, a Wildlife Biologist at the Division, black bears in New Jersey breed at roughly two to three years of age as compared to places such as Montana where the bears are five and six years before they breed. This is due to the optimal food sources here in New Jersey. They have not only an abundance of food, but also a varied selection.

If encountering a black bear, The Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife has these tips:

Stay calm and use common sense. Never approach the animal. Most bears are easily frightened into leaving.

Do not feed the bears! Bears that associate food with people may become aggressive and dangerous.

Keep at least 15 feet away from the animal. If you are at close range, remain standing, avoid direct eye contact. Back up slowly and speak in a calm, assertive and assuring voice.

Make sure the bear has an escape route. Sometimes bears will "bluff charge" when cornered. Yell, bang pots, or use an airhorn to scare the bear away. If the bear will not leave, move to your house, car or building if available. If a bear sounds a series of huffs or snap or pop its jaws and swat the ground, it is a warning sign that you are too close. Slowly back away!

Depending on the season, the bears will find cherries, acorns, grasses, various kinds of berries, tree bark, corn, and even bee hives to choose from. Their fur is bee-proof and the occasional sting on the nose is well worth the honey they may find. Bears are omnivores, meaning they eat many different kinds of animal and plant food. They can eat just about anything of nutritional value. Being opportunistic feeders no food source is ever overlooked. They eat what they find. Although vegetation makes up most of their diet, ants from an anthill, road kill or even the occasion fawn will serve as well. And they will help themselves to seeds in a bird feeder or a squirrel's stash of nuts if they sniff it out.

The bears need to add fat to get through their winter denning period. When they emerge in the spring in a fairly groggy state, they don't eat for about two to three weeks. Then they feed non-stop until September. That last month prior to denning they're consuming up to 20,000 calories a day. They will need 50 to 60 pounds of fat to sustain them through the winter months.

Most people think that bears hibernate, but in fact, they do not. They go through a period of dormancy known as denning. The bears will make a den someplace secluded where they will not be found or disturbed, such as hollow trees, small caves, large excavation under roots of a tree, or the side of a dirt hill. Rugged terrain and dense shrubs provide escape cover and optimal den sites. They will not reuse their dens, but may use an old den of another bear from a previous winter. The space cannot be too large as they will need to conserve body heat. The site will be prepared about one month in advance of their late November to early December denning time.

The bears fall into a deep, yet not unbreakable slumber. They can be startled awake, though I wouldn't want to be the one who does it! And sometimes unseasonably warm weather can fool them into thinking spring has arrived. They may awaken briefly and go out for a walk sort of sleepily. During their extended sleep their body temperature remains near normal at 96 degrees and their heart rate slows to 10 beats per minute. Within this five-month nap period, the bears do not urinate, defecate, eat or drink. All the water and calories necessary are provided to them by the four-inch layer of fat they have established prior to their slumber.

Some time in the months of January or February a female that is in her winter den will give birth to one to four bear cubs. These sows mate normally every other year typically producing 20 to 30 cubs in her lifetime. Black bears mate in June and early July. The boars are drawn to the scent about a week before she actually goes into heat. The bears spend this time kind of "dating," just getting used to each other. The eggs are fertilized and carried inside her fallopian tubes for five months before implanting on the uterine wall. However, if the female does not put on the needed fat for denning, the pregnancy will be spontaneously aborted. Embryonic growth takes two months and two to five cubs will be born in January. They are hairless, blind, and eight ounces at birth. A first-time mother will probably have one cub and commonly twins after that. The cubs grow rapidly and emerge with their mother in May. By 10 months old the cubs may weigh over 50 pounds, but are still easy prey without mother at their side. Humans, brown bears, and male black bears are the most dangerous enemies for the cubs. Even very young the cubs are proficient climbers and use their skill to protect themselves.

The females make wonderful mothers giving their babies constant attention, holding them on their laps in a human-like stance or carrying them on their backs. The cubs stay with their mothers for only the first two winters. Their survival depends greatly on what's learned in this time and their mother's skill in teaching the cubs what to eat, where and how to forage, where to den, and when and where to seek shelter from heat or danger. The cubs are usually independent by the second winter. At five years a typical cub will weigh 200 pounds and can kill a deer of equal weight. A young adult female is often allowed to establish her territory within that of her mother's while subadult males must go out on their own.

Though issues of habitat and human tolerance remain, officials and residents of New Jersey are currently working to maintain this unique predator as a positive part of New Jersey's wildlife.

Comments

Kevin
21 Jul 2014, 04:06
I live in Kinnelon, NJ and residents see black bears all the time. Just saw a mother bear with 5 cubs, never saw that before, very cool!
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Malissa
04 Jan 2014, 03:17
Just thought I'd drop you a line to tell you your www.njskylands.com really rocks! I have been looking for this sort of information for a long time.. I don't usually reply to posts but I will in this case. WoW terrific great. wish you luck in New Year!
J M
18 Nov 2013, 17:40
I live just south of Pattenburg, NJ, near the intersection of Routes 579 and 614. This past Friday at 11pm I had three full grown black bears on my deck. They didn't seem concerned when I put the deck lights on or when I opened the bedroom window and called out to them. They casually strolled off when all the bird food was gone and they had checked out my car and the wood pile (tearing up the cover a bit). Beautiful creatures!
Larisa
14 Oct 2013, 18:25
Thanks in advance and good luck, www.njskylands.com ! :)
james
17 May 2013, 12:57
I live in Greenwood Lake, NY about 1/4 mile from NJ. This morning as I walked to my car. I saw a decent sized bear walking towards my neighbor across the streets front yard. His yellow lab ran towards the bear barking like crazy and got to within a few feet of the bear. I thought the bear would hurt the dog. Instead he kept walking like the dog was not even there. Very docile creature.
jewely
29 Dec 2012, 11:21
I live in north central rural Alberta Canada. We live with bears, coyotes, wolves, cougars, owls, eagles, lynx, deer, moose, otters, fishers,and the occasional wolverine. These animals are as natural to the environment as the air,the water, the hills and the trees. In reading these posts I have noticed that most of you "fear" a bear attack, I have not read of an "actual" bear attack.\r\nAnd I will most likely not read of such an event. Having grown up in rural Canada most of my life [and I am over 1/2 century old] I can say that bear attacks are rare, not unheard of, but rare. Be aware, be alert, be smart. These bears are attracted to your garbage and bird feeders. I have apple trees in my yard, raspberries and strawberries. My neighbors apple tree was attacked by a bear and ripped apart, mine was not. I have a BIG dog and a little dog. I am sure they act as a deterrent for all the creatures of the our big woods.\r\n\r\nJewely
Matthew
26 Oct 2012, 09:22
I live in the woods of Raritan Twp, outside of Flemington. This morning I found my trash strewn across the yard,two bird feeders torn down and the garbage can which holds 50 lbs. of bird seed opened and empty about 200 ft. from where it was originally. I never saw the bear, but had the pleasure of finding two big piles of bear scat. No big deal--I like the fact they're around (the bears-not the scat...). I'll just take precautions that the seed and feeders are put away at night. I agree with some of the folks in this chat who say, "What do expect when you move to the woods?" If you don't like 'em, move. They were here first....
alan l
03 Jan 2012, 20:55
I'm gathering information on motorcycle/motor vehicle accidents with black bears. If you have any information, or have been involved in an accident or near accident with a black bear, please write me at alebowitz@mlcolaw.com. I'm looking for information about black bears visibility when coming out of woods onto road. Thanks. A
Tim Leinroth
27 Dec 2011, 10:02
I have read all the entries and I well understand peoples fears in regard to human bear interactions.I am from Mass but have hiked throughout the Northeast. The black bear is the most magnificent creature in the woods. Its beauty is that it is strong enough to detach a mans head. However it chooses not to and spends its time searching for berries and nuts to feed itself and maybe its young. Lets put things in perspective. Check with your local police station. How many child molesters and sexual predators live near you? These people are far more dangerous than any black bear. A hunting season? Yes! But with tranquilizing darts. Then take the bear to a remote area. Remember that we are encroaching on their habitat ever time we build a shopping center or housing developement. Not vice versa.
just the facts
23 Dec 2011, 07:47
To clarify a few comments...bears in NJ are only tagged once. They get a tag in both ears (different numbers) and a tattoo inside the lip matching one of the tag numbers. Only bears 1yr or older are tattooed, cubs mouth too small. A bear may be handled multiple times and keep the original tag/tattoo. Bears were not reintroduced into NJ, since hunting closure in 1971 bears population from remaining number has grown along with bears dispersing from NY and PA into NJ. Delaware river is not a barrier to bears who actually swim very well. Enjoy your bear sightings.
judi
22 Nov 2011, 13:14
Live and work in Landing for past 25 years. Never saw a bear until last year, although I had heard some were around. Now it's almost a daily sighting. Yesterday morning, a mother bear & at least one of her cubs were run down on Rt 46 in Ledgewood. There's a 600 pounder, already tagged twice, wandering around (again). A 16 year old injured bear (also tagged twice) was in my next door neighbor's yard two times this summer, we later heard it died a few blocks away of a massive infection. We called the police on the injured bear, they came, they looked, they did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. This bear had already been tagged twice, and was back again. It had an injured front paw, was walking on three legs. Isn't an injured animal more dangerous? Why aren't the police in Northern NJ better equipped and trained to deal with black bear? Why did at least one of the cubs on Rt 46 yesterday have to get run over when they could have been tranquilized & moved?\r\n
Mr. Jody
21 Nov 2011, 23:05
Black Bears seem to be a huge growing problem in nw nj. As black bear hunting season soon upon us. im taking part in helping with the management of them. If anybody north of rt 80, has a problem with blk bear & has property they r willing to allow me to use. Plz contact me. I would like to scout it 1st. Thank you for reading my post. I hope not to offend to many people with this post. Thank you again. Happy holidays to all
Bruna
12 Oct 2011, 07:02
Well.It may seem fun to see wild animals around the city, but there is also e fear wandering as well. I have seen the bear almost everyday wandering the streets of Wanaque, and nobody is doing a demn thing about it. You end up calling the police and they say " Why did you call us?- You should be calling Animal Controll" Well what is Police going to be doing. Is'nt this an emergency call also. Or, I guess we should be calling 911 when somebody gets hurt. These are some things that I dont understand when it comes to protection from police. hey realy should be doing something about this. We don't care it should be the Police or it should be Animal Control. Please take things serious, and take action on your hands.
Tom
27 Aug 2011, 20:37
I love animals. I love them to live in the wild not in my suburb. "Learn to live with them." Nonsense. The black bear was reintroduced to NJ because hunters wanted something to shoot. If they are in the state parks and wooded areas, fine. If they come across routes 46, 10, and 80, they should be transported or exterminated with prejudice. \r\n\r\nI am perplexed by people who find it necessary to feed sharks, swim with dolphins, or hike in areas that bears live. If we were really concerned with the preservation of these animals, we would limit human contact to people who are guided by professional rangers and wildlife experts. Otherwise, when people are attacked they asked for it by invading the animal's natural habitat.\r\n\r\nHowever, when the animals start vacationing in suburbs and even, yes, try to enter locked homes because they smell dinner cooking, it is time to draw the line. There is no value to having dangerous wild animals in suburbia. I like animals but not that much and all the so-called animal rights people need to get real on this issue.\r\n\r\nAs far as the "God forbid watch their children" comment, it is way out of line. It is not bad parenting to want to be able to let your kids play in the back yard without fear they might be mauled by a bear. You are not on a high horse, you are just high. Parents of small children have enough to worry about these days without contending with people who feel self-righteous because, of all a things, they have never been attacked by a bear.
MM
18 Aug 2011, 06:23
Who do you call if you have found an injured bear near Vernon, NJ?
John
16 Aug 2011, 04:27
I have a small Black Bear, maybe about 50 - 60 lbs that has been coming around my property in Highland Lakes for the past 2 weeks. This bear has been tagged twice. I've heard reports that there are 2 other bears sited in my backyard ranging in large and medium. Seems I have a full set!\r\nBy the end of Spring I saw a Mother Bear with a 3 cubs wandering in my backyard at least every 3 - 5 days. It was almost like clock work. I MAKE SURE NOT TO HAVE ANY FOODSTUFF OUT IN THE OPEN! My compost pile is very well maintained and any scrapes are buried very well and covered over. \r\nStrange thing though, I have a small black dog that will not bark at my small bear intruder but looks on as if it were another friend of hers!
Diana
08 Aug 2011, 07:22
Nothing like running to the Internet to do a search on black bears once you've seen one of these beauties in your backyard. We saw a female black bear in our yard this past Saturday morning (Ironia Road, Randolph). A half hour of learning what attracts bears shows that we need to get rid of the bird feeder for the summer (crushed to bits by the bear anyway) and keep bird seed in the house. Hubby stored extra bird seed in a bag and put that bag inside a zippered tote which he left under our deck. Smart bear opened the zipper and had herself a feast. Learned that they are pretty timid, won't mess with the dog or cat and will usually move away if we bang something, yell, or open and close an umbrella (think Mary Poppins?)\r\nHope all is well in your neighborhood. Enjoy the day!
Mrs. R
28 Jul 2011, 05:02
mhill - wow, you seem to have more issues than this topic so I will bid you and your sarcastic words good bye. This topic didn't start out as a discussion between just you and I but as a note to all that there are bear sightings here. So take your nastiness, and continue to live in Mt. Arlington - thank god your are not in my township.
mhill
27 Jul 2011, 21:41
To answer the question, I've lived in Mt. Arlington for 37 years. So yeah, I've got a high horse because I've been here my whole life and have had to listen to too many shocked people that can't believe that *gasp* deer live here and *gasp* bear live here and oh God, will anyone think of the children, wring your hands and worry. Learn to live with wildlife or move to the city. Seriously. There are plenty of other societies that can co-exist with much more dangerous bear than we have (Grizzly bear, for example) and don't try to have every sexually deviant freak in the county that wants to get his rocks off by watching an animal bleed to death in the dirt come shoot every pregnant female in the vicinity. Sorry, but it's disgusting and if you can't live with the wildlife in the area (yes, that means you have to be vigilant in your yard and have to actually God forbid, watch your children and pets when outdoors) then please, by all means, leave.
EBM
27 Jul 2011, 15:54
Mrs. R\r\n\r\nI agree with you entirely. BRAVO!!!!
Mrs. R
27 Jul 2011, 10:30
Mhill - don't know where you are from but get off your high horse. i have lived here 37 years and there are more sightings than ever before. Maybe we need a hunt or some form of sterilization treatment, I don't know, but to see these large animals up close in my yard - it is frightening. Our pets aren't safe and neither are we if we happen to be gardening and then scare them - who knows. I didn't buy a McMansion, new house, new development etc. I am curious where you live and how you would feel given what you have read. They are being found in more populated areas like Edison and North Brunswick also - should we all move out of the State? And yes, if I wanted a co-op in the city I would have already been living there. I love living in the country but that doesn't mean I like being afraid of stepping out my door. I don't want to see harm come to them either but something needs to be done. I wonder how many planning boards you are on?
EBM
27 Jul 2011, 04:18
Intellectualizing about humans in the bear's home is understandable. Reality is another matter. Let's see the postings when someone's child gets hurt.
mhill
26 Jul 2011, 08:32
It blows my mind when people buy a house in the woods, or in an area that has wildlife and then cry that said wildlife is in their backyard. You live in their habitat - what did you think would happen? If you want paved over living quarters devoid of animal life go move to the city. What do you think is going to happen when 100 acres of animal territory is suddenly reduced to 20 acres because of disgusting, mcmansion houses and ugly cookie cutter developments being thrown up everywhere? Guess what? The animals that are having their homes removed due to humans putting up an ugly 4 bedroom colonial in the middle of the woods need to go somewhere. So yeah, Long Valley is clearly wilderness - just because you haven't seen it doesn't mean you are there. If you'd like to stop encounters than maybe sit in on some zoning or building meetings and demand that NJ stop handing over natural land to builders. Or stop moaning and buy a coop in the city..
elaine
26 Jul 2011, 07:24
I have lived in Long Valley/Hackettstown for over 30 years. Certainly,I have been aware of an occasional bear visit or sighting in the area. However, during the week-end of July 22, 2011, we saw a total of three bears, at different times, within 10 feet of our front door. I no longer work outdoors, swim or relax in the yard without a horn in my pocket. I am looking forward to a bear hunt.
al
21 Jul 2011, 14:01
Reading these comments about the black bears. If any landowner would give me permission to hunt if there is an upcoming season this year please send me an email
anna
16 Jul 2011, 10:22
I saw a black bear in my yard in lebanon township. My dog was barking at something behind the tree, the bear come out and I screamed for the dog. Luckily me, my grandson and the dog got in the house.
Mrs. R
13 Jul 2011, 09:31
Have lived in Long Valley 34 years and except for a sighting down in the valley a couple of years ago, have never seen one. I knew they were around, saw trash dragged all around, heard from neighbors but never saw one on my property. Last year after coming in from watering plants, one rather large one meandered through my yard. Today, one came through the yard, about 3' from my large kitchen window and then looked around and left. He or she was beautiful. This one had a tracking device around it's neck and two tags in the ears. After watching it leave, low and behold another one follows the same path, smelling the track of the other one and follows off towards the first one. This one larger, no tracking device. I am just assuming this one was a he and he was looking for the she that just past through. So glad I wasn't sitting in the yard because it walked through the place that we have two chairs and plant hook and I usually sit and read there. Don't know what I would have done.\r\n
Cheryl
12 Jul 2011, 12:00
We have lived on Flocktown Rd in Long Valley for 30 yrs and have never seen bears like we have this year.\r\nSeveral times in the spring crossing the street to the Palmers Estate and now at dusk behind our house several times. The last bear had a tracking device around his neck. I went out on the deck and he just\r\ntrotted right past me on his way. They are amazing looking animals, but I dont let my dog out now without having a leash on him in the evenings when they seem to come out of the woods in the back.
John
11 Jul 2011, 14:34
Live in Rockaway (Hibernia). I have seen more bears this year then over the past 5 years combined. Few weeks ago we had a birthday party for my daughter. Around 8 kids playing outside. A small bear came out of the woods and started walking up my front lawn towards the children. We yelled at it and scared it away.Pretty sure it just ducked into the brush and hung out for a while. Around 20 minutes later it came back and started walking up the lawn. This time one of the kids, excited to see the bear ran towards it. Luckly it reacted by running away. Feel like I am playing russian roulette with these things. Sometimes they run away others times they do not. Only a matter of time before some kid gets killed.
carole
11 Jul 2011, 04:32
I have lived with the black bears for many years and seldom have problems. However this morning a large male bear tried to climb the garden deer fence. He was not afraid of me and I could only get him to move a little ways into the woods. I called him in.
egil
05 Jul 2011, 17:53
saw my first bear next to our deck on south road in randolph. It walked across the lawn to our neighbor's yard and then went downhill towards dawson brook and the woods.
Donna
10 Jun 2011, 19:32
Lived in Long Valley - up on the mountain - for over 30 years. Saw 1 bear about 17 years ago, then not again until last year when 2 walked thru our yard. 1 thru the back & about 15 minutes later, another thru the front. I was glad we didn't think about bears when we had our dogs 'cause I wouldn't want to have to take them out at night knowing bears were around. Now living in Budd Lake in a rental home. We have no place to put our garbage except outside & the bear(s) have gotten into it. Not sure what to do. Will try bungee cords, but not sure that will work. Saw 1 bear yesterday when it walked almost right under a front window, around the side looking for garbage, then thru the backyard & into the woods & up the hill. YIKES!
John T Mc Gowan
05 Jun 2011, 10:06
I had my first encounter with a black bear that DID NOT run off. I've seen many at Norvin Green State Park, but today I heard what had to be a 500 lb bear (HUGE) rustling behind a rock outcropping. It sensed my approach and came out the far side, about 25 feet away and about 6 feet higher on an incline. Raised my arms, called out multiple times, but it did not move. Backed off and pulled my bear spray just in case, and it just stayed there watching, holding it's ground. Could it have been protecting a fresh kill?
John DiConsiglio
09 May 2011, 12:21
I'm a writer with Scholastic, the books & magazines used in schools as teaching aids. Im working on an article for middle school students about black bears, particularly the bears of New Jersey. We are talking to people about their encounters with bears. If you have had an encounter with a black bear & would like to share your story, please contact me before 5/13/11.\r\n\r\nThanks\r\n\r\nJohn DiConsiglio\r\njohn.diconsiglio@verizon.net\r\n
jigsprocket
03 Apr 2011, 05:29
I live in Landing, NJ in the Highlands. I have a neighbor who feeds the birds and the deer with corn. We have been regularly visited by a black bear that seems incredibly large. This beer is frequenting our property more and more and on one occasion I stumbled into it not knowing that it was in my back yard. I have asked her to discontinue the practice because we have children and so do other neighbors. One of my neighbors told me she saw the bear at her back window. One day the bear pulled down the bird feeder and just hung out for an extended period of time. Aside from the numerous deer that have taken up residence in my yard there is plenty scat from both the dear and the bear. I have pictures of this bear standing on it's hind legs and boy is it tall and ominous. I don't know what to do because I have asked her to stop the feeding but she is obsessed with it.
Kate
01 Dec 2010, 08:29
I live in Hunterdon County NJ and we have had bears in our area. I am not scared in the least. I am careful not to surprise a bear, but considering they are more scared of you than you are of them in the majority of instances, I fear my fellow human more. \r\n\r\nI am curious as to how a bear hunt would work. Seems although they don't truly hibernate they find a den to rest in late November and into December. Are they tracking these bears and going into the den and killing them? Also according to this article they give birth in January after a two month embryonic period, so basically I take it they will be killing pregnant females. I guess they just let the babies die inside of her as she lays dying?
Jackie
02 Nov 2010, 16:17
My husband and daughter were walking our dog last night at about 7:30pm in Riverdale, NJ when they walked right up to a 500 lb black bear. They were about 10 feet away and my husband started walking away slowly, but my daughter panicked and ran home. My husband kept his eye on it until it started walking and then he ran as well. Its hard to remain calm and do what they tell you too when you walk right up to one. Luckily, the bear didn't follow and aside from some nerves, everyone is OK - although no one wants to walk the dog tonight.
Sharyn
01 Nov 2010, 17:29
I live in Flanders up on the mountian for 26 yrs and have never seen a bear until tonight about 4:40 pm.I had just come in from the garage and I saw this black bear in my back yard standing on his hind legs looking in the birdfeeder. He was large standing approximately 6 foot on his hind legs. Then he slowely walked towards the deck and I freaked and quickly closed the garage door. Good thing as he went around the driveway and on to the front walk as I was calling the police. He then went to a neighbor's house. I got into the car & drove around the block and there he was going to the next house & across the steet onto another front lawn. There were several neighbors walking dogs and the bear crossed the street and went to another house and snooped around on their front walk. By then there were several cars watching this and I found out that the bear had been in the neighborhood for about a week. Very scary since Halloween was last night!
felicia
26 Oct 2010, 11:09
we live in vernon, nj and each day the bear comes out to teh dumpster to eat, i have been face to face with it numerous times seeing my spot to park is right next to the dumpster, she is a tagged bear not sure what that means, i worry about the school aged kids walking to catch the bus and running into one of these things, we lived in lake hopatcong last year and had 3 bears visiting us weekly. scary especially when you have kids and they cant even go out to play!
Kim
30 Sep 2010, 11:30
I've lived in Long Valley for 10 years and have never seen a bear. I've seen evidence of bear (suet that goes missing in the night)and heard stories of bear in this area, but have never actually seen one. A couple days ago there was a bear crossing through the yard, the only way I even knew about is was I heard someone yelling. A neighbor was yelling at the bear to scare it away & it worked by the time I got outside to see what was going on the bear gone.
Ann
01 Sep 2010, 23:09
We live in basking ridge nj and I just saw a black bear at around 7:45 pm cross our backyard and move along. The bear was about 250 pounds. We were scared. Heard of bears around these parts but never thought we would see one around here. We are a little over a mile from the great swamp in a fairly populated area. So it must have wondered over. My husband was on a hammock in the backyard while I was in the front yard talking to a neighbour while my six yr old son was riding his bike. Got my son in the house faster then I ever had before. Scary
Robert
29 Aug 2010, 18:51
Spotted a large one crossing Morris Tpke in Randolph this morning. It was lumbering across the street and ran to the woods when we got closer. Was majestic, but obviously we need to an eye out for our children.
michael
09 Aug 2010, 18:37
Well, I have lived in Long Valley for 8 years in a neighborhood but have about 6 acres backing up to conservation land. Never saw a bear in 8 years. Then three weeks ago a huge one about 500 lbs goes trotting across the front yard at 7 am and two weeks later walks right by the sliding glass doors from the gameroom where my son was watching TV, totally unfazed and passing by.\r\n\r\nThis is scary stuff especially with children and animals around. Sure they are majestic and all that, but I would prefer we somehow keep the population down. Now I have to worry every time I let the dogs out or the kids are in the yard. Who is going to guarantee me that they won't hurt humans or animals that are just going about their business.
glenn
25 Jul 2010, 10:15
you all are so lucky to have bears in your yards. i would love to see bears on my property--unfortunately i live in asbury park--the only thing that sneaks into my yard are crackheads looking for anything they can steal from you. i envy all of you who have rural properties and bears to live around. if anyone wants to trade houses let me know--you dont know how good you have it up there. i'd take bears over thieves, drug addicts and murderers sneaking in your yard. keep a paintball gun near your door--a few harmless paint pelts will keep your bears from coming back and won't kill them. \r\nembrace the gift of nature that you are all so lucky to live near instead of fearing it. also some ammonia soaked rags in and around your garbage cans will make bears search elsewhere. and as always if anyone can tell me where i can see and photograph a bear please email me anytime--glenn in asbury park
lksmith
24 Jul 2010, 14:02
Our bear is back, this time with four cubs. Neighbors didn't heed the warning so it took down the bird feeders on their deck and searched their open garage. Cops came, blew their sirens but were ignored. They've been spotted several times in the neighborhood, so apparently they live close by and aren't leaving any time soon. :(\r\n
wsteinert
10 Jul 2010, 19:26
Ms. Smith,\r\n\r\nI agree with you and also support a controlled hunt. The mother bear that rammed my dog kennell was a scary situation and a true display of the black bear's power and protective instinct. But I think it was an unusual situation in that she had six cubs on our property (trying to get to a nearby wetland) and our Great Pyr barked and treed the cubs which set mamma bear off. I think in most cases the bears will avoid dogs and can smell them ahead of time, etc. I don't blame you for keeping the dogs in more than out. The bears are here to stay without a controlled hunting season. Take care.
lksmith
10 Jul 2010, 19:15
Mr. Steinert:I'd really like to believe what you're saying, yet one rammed your dog kennel. I find too many conflicting opinions about bear vs. dog vs. bear behaviour on various websites and am reaching the conclusion that there's no one specific answer or solution to combatting the problem. Seems the bears are here to stay and it's up to us to keep ourselves and our animals safe, in whatever way is most effective. Unless NJ wakes up and authorizes a hunt to control - not wipe out - the growing bear population, I'll keep my dogs in the house. And when they're gone, if I still live here, I won't adopt any more.
wsteinert
10 Jul 2010, 18:05
lksmith: Your dogs are fine wandering your property. The black bears won't attack them and to the contrary will do everything to avoid them. The dogs will chase a bear away that does wander onto your land which will likely lead to the bear climbing a tree if not out running the dogs (yes the black bear is faster) and the dog will bark at it if treed. A fight is highly unlikely.
lksmith
10 Jul 2010, 15:45
Ridge Rd/Mountain Rd, Tewksbury, NJ: Tuesday, July 6, around 8:30am, a very large black bear wandered up to the deer fence on our patio. My husband and our 3 large dogs were out at the time and needless to say, the dogs went crazy. Had they been out by themselves most likely they would have gone through the fence to get at the bear. He/she sniffed through the fence for a few seconds then turned and wandered off. Short of walking them on a leash in my own yard, does anyone have any info on the best way to protect the dogs? Will dogs and bears attack or fight each other? We've removed all bird feeders and secured the garbage cans in the garage, but it's hard to see the point of living in the woods when an acre of fenced-in yard( plus pool and patio )offers no protection. In 6 yrs. here this is the 1st bear we've seen - and the last, I hope. I can no longer let the dogs out in their own yard by themselves!
RuthAnn
04 Jul 2010, 18:52
300 lb bear in Bedminster near Old Dutch Road - in the past 50 yrs here we've never had bears (or we just didnt see them) - came too close to the house though and the noise of us being outside didnt seem to bother the bear at all
blackbear
01 Jul 2010, 16:21
i saw a blackbear. i was in the bathroom with no windows and i looked in the mirror! aaaaahhhh!!!watch my pets! haha\r\n
blackbear
01 Jul 2010, 16:17
i am going to eat you\r\nthanks for this website !! :)\r\n
lou wilcox
30 Jun 2010, 19:13
I saw a huge black bear in oakland eating my neighbors garbage. This is the second sighting in 2 weeks. i called oakland police and they said to leave it alone. watch your pets !
John B.
29 Jun 2010, 19:20
I sighted a black bear this evening around 8:45 PM. It was walking down the road in front of our farm (Gladstone, NJ). I would have missed it had my horses not warned of something unusual in their area. I know that another black bear was sighted in front of the Pottersville Deli, which in about a mile away, last weekend. I have lived in Bedminster Twp. for 34 years and this is the first bear I have seen. It is mating season so I guess that they are on the move to find the females in the area. Will keep my eyes open for them now that I know that they are near my home. Any other sightings in this area?
Brian R
11 Jun 2010, 10:48
I have lived in rural Blairstown for over 25 years. My family have all learned to live peacefully with the Bears. It's not hard folks! We are in their home after all. We are the invaders. First go on-line and buy a Bear-proof garbage can or two. That is a must do! Put your bird feeders out ONLY in the winter months when birds really need the extra food to winter over. Plus that's when most Bears are hibernating in their dens. Use God given common sense people and don't get between mama Bear and her babies. You would defend your childen against strangers right? So will mama Bear! They are very timid so MAKE A LOT OF NOISE and they will run away every time. Buy one of those small hand-held air horns at your local sporting goods stores. Black Bears hate those air horns as it hurts their ears. (They are also small enough to carry in your pocket when hiking or cycling) Hunting bears is just plain dumb dumb dumb - become educated and learn to live with nature like my family has done for over 25 years without one "Bear problem". We see Black and Brown Bears at least 3 or 4 times a week and they are just beautiful creatures that were living here first. Just be smart and give them the room and respect they need. They in turn will NOT bother you one bit. Get educated and hunt bears with camera not guns! It's all about being educated and learning to live among nature...
wsteinert
01 Jun 2010, 16:33
There is very little similarity in behavior towards humans between the black bears being discussed in this forum and western grizzly bears. Let's be clear. A grizzly bear is extremely unpredictable and dangerous. You would likely survive an unlikely black bear attack. If you spook a grizzly bear out west your chances of surviving are slim and serious injury is guaranteed. I don't care who's hiked where and how often. The grizzly bear is also known to kill black bears.
WCD
01 Jun 2010, 11:25
It is amusing to read some of these comments that spew arrogance in their opinion. I am not an expert by any means but I am a long time hiker and tracker. Whether it is here in New Jersey, NY, PA, out west, or even Canada, (yes I have hiked and tracked all of those), bears...black and brown are for the most part shy and timid. Even a grizzly will retreat upon seeing a human. But...and there is a very big BUT, any bear, black or brown, will become aggressive to protect their cubs or food source. If the bear perceives you are a threat...you have a problem. Also NJ has some very nice state forests but I wouldn't consider them wilderness. If you really want wilderness head west or up to Canada. Lastly, I am sad to say in favor of a bear hunt. From what I am reading here incidents of bears coming into yards and towns means they are becoming used to people. That changes the equation and makes them dangerous animals. That sounds to me like the bear population needs to be adjusted. For those looking for bear encounters...lol...try Norvin Green State Forest. I just finished a nice hike through there and saw several. But if you are not sure of what you are doing....you may want to read up.
Jeff Williams
24 May 2010, 11:36
2 weeks ago while hiking up the Douglas Garvey Trail towards Sunfish pond, myself and my two dogs came across a fairly large mama bear and 3 very tiny cubs. The cubs were so small, about the size of a very young puppy. Luckily I saw her about 200yards out before the dogs did. I started yelling a bit and then started banging some rocks together to get her to depart the trail and run off. Mama was having none of it though, she had the cubs climb up a tree and then she sat right in front of it and looked at me. I kept yelling at her and once the dogs saw her they wanted to go after her. She let out a few warning moans and then after about half an hour began to mosey off into the forrest with her babies. Had I not grown up hiking all around North Jersey, I would have been terrified. However, if your hiking in the North New Jersey woods and you don't see bears, you're probably not looking hard enough or your being way too loud. Also, if your in bear country, try to keep the dogs on a leash as mine would have gone after her with vicious intent, had I let them(but I guess my Cane Corso is just acting instinctevly). \r\n\r\nLastly, to anyone who does not believe there are 400-600lb Blacks bears in NJ, I beg you to hike the Newark Watershed at dawn. I've come across several that were bigger than every Black bear I've ever seen in a zoo or on TV and bigger than some brown bears. I've seen some large males that would be considerably taller than me if they stood up and I'm 6'2.
denise liss
17 May 2010, 07:28
Took my usual walk in Oakland this morning. Saw a large, tagged black bear up in the woods near the Ringwood border. He crossed the street right in front of me(20 feet)and gave a disinterested glance. He walked along side me for about ten yards...just gorgeous(I am guessing it was a male as it was large and had no cubs). Very cool
Robert
11 May 2010, 11:58
Glenn, you need to get up really early and hike when no one else is around. Try the Rattlesnake Swamp trail by the Delaware Water Gap. Another good place is Allamuchy Mountain. If you hike around 8 AM, you are almost guaranteed a sighting. If you hike at 6, you are certainly guaranteed to see one. Don't talk/make too much noise while you hike.
eleni hopkins
07 May 2010, 20:38
i saw a BIG BLACK BEAR on my way to work on Washington Ave., by the Washington Township/Hillsdale border in Bergen County NJ, right near the South entrance of the Garden State Parkway on May 5th, 2010 @ 8:30 AM. I could not believe my eyes. I called the police who in turn notified wildlife. On May 6th, we recd an emergency alert phone call from the township of River Vale, notifying us to beware of the bear. And I just read on line that there was a bear siting in Closter, Bergen County NJ today. So it is true that there are def. bears in norther bergen county!
no way
24 Apr 2010, 08:16
500 lb bear in jersey in april this is not alaska
Melanie
23 Apr 2010, 19:45
I live in Long Valley, NJ and we had many bears last summer on our property. I saw a bear the other night on my road. It must have been a male because it probably weighed 450 to 500lbs. Not a fan of bears since we have pets & children.
glenn
18 Apr 2010, 06:38
well still havent seen a bear in nj. been all over north jersey to all the "hot spots" for bears. nothing. not even a track. heard about one in a dumpster near milford, thats it. now it looks like a bear hunt will happen in late 2010 since some a-hole from pennsylvania dep--why pa i don't know--said lethal control should be used--they should use it on his ideas. sickening that anyone would want to shoot a black bear. they are beautiful. you can hunt them with paintball guns and they will get the message--you don't need to kill them.
glenn spina
03 Apr 2010, 18:09
so i spent the day in waywayanda state park hiking the trails, talking to park rangers and people along the way. but no bears to be seen. darn it! oh well i am going back because everybody i met had trouble believing that we didn't see any bears--apparently all the bears are the peoples yards that i met and not the park--go figure--anyway really nice people up in milford and waywayanda park area--had a blast and can't wait to go back this week. if anyone knows a spot , dumpster wherever where bears seem to be all the time let me know so i can drive up from asbury park and check them out. thanks everyone for the tips. trying to get some bear pictures--its harder than i thought but twice as fun trying.
glenn spina
23 Mar 2010, 07:05
i am still looking for somewhere to photograph bears in the wild in nj. if anyone knows where i might have a good chance of seeing any please let me know--also a mountain lion was spotted in the freehold/manalapan area this past week. 5 sightings from 5 different locations around the area, so its a pretty good chance its a single cat moving through. wish i saw it myself. thanks for any info on bears--email me --Glenn
name
23 Mar 2010, 06:56
the letters are over laping i cant read that\r\n\r\n
wsteinert
07 Mar 2010, 06:14
george kimmerle: Black Bears that live in N.J. are not necessarily black, but may be brown or even cinnamon-colored.
george kimmerle
07 Mar 2010, 05:16
saturday march 6, saw a small brown bear in the rear of our property west of roxiticus road, along the north branch of the raritan river\r\n\r\nwas walking along the stream and our ducks were very vocal and on guard as it walked away\r\n\r\ncan anyone confirm that there are brown bears in the area west of roxiticus and south of rt 24, behind the ralston fire house and in the area of burnett and ironia brooks\r\n\r\ngeorge k
fosmr
03 Jan 2010, 14:12
Not sure where some of the people posting here are getting the idea that there are no wilderness areas in NJ. I live on the edge of a state forest, which is a great big wilderness area. The Skylands region is FULL of wilderness.
Walter Steinert
22 Nov 2009, 22:04
Branchville, NJ. A Sow with six (6) cubs visited our yard several times over the summer. One time, our dogs (from their kennel) barked and treed the cubs. The mother became agitated immediately & rammed the kennel, breaking the gate hinges. My two boys were playing in the yard next door at the time. If I had a gun and a permit I would have been tempted to shoot the bear. I reported it to the NJ Div Of Fish & Wildlife. They did nothing about it. The year before, a mother with five cubs was the talk of the town. The bears are proliferating at an alarming rate. It may be time for legalizing the bear hunt. Perhaps every other year, to keep the population at a safe level.
glenn spina
19 Nov 2009, 11:06
still looking for bears to photograph. i have been to several northwest parts of nj but haven't seen any. anybody have any specific spots that might be our best bet for pictures of wild bears in nj please let me know--thanks again--glenn
Chris
06 Nov 2009, 12:21
Dont mind my pessimism, But the bear population in Haskell/Wanaque area is growing to concerning levels. I haven't seen a live bear pretty much all my life, Now in Haskell this year alone I've had 5 sightings since June 09' and it's only November. Twice it was in my yard, Whats the real truth behind shooting a bear? I have 3 kids that play outside on any given day with a fenced in yard. Now I should just talk to the bear and open my gate so it can leave and bother someone else? I think not!
dot harding
07 Oct 2009, 09:25
I live in west milford ,we have alot of sightings, we had a huge male in our yard last nite and has been coming back, very scary when it is in your yard, sev. places to hike , but use caution, is Wawayanda state forest and, we often hike with our dogs, also, Norvin green state forest, go to this website,www.nynjtc.org
bryan
16 Sep 2009, 16:02
has any one seen a puma in nj\r\n
grassfox
25 Aug 2009, 03:05
Glenn, if you want to see a bear your chances are pretty good in the Ogdensburg, NJ area like Lori said. My wife was in O'burg and saw a bear walking through the grammar school yard ans school bus stop then it walked up the hill behind the town hall, sauntered across High Street and then up Madden Ave where it stopped in a backyard and sniffed around the kids toys before heading up toward Heater's Pond at the top of the ridge line. No guarantees though. Wildlife photography is not a one day event. Seeing bears in the "wild" in NJ is a tough one though. There are no wild areas in NJ. If you want to be guaranteed to see a bear, then Turtle Back zoo is your best bet and their enclosure makes it look like you took the picture while standing next to them in the woods. I can show you where you can take pictures of turtles in Matawan.
GLENN SPINA
05 Aug 2009, 10:59
CAN SOMEONE TELL ME WHERE I CAN SEE WILD BEARS IN NJ TO PHOTOGRAPH AND OBSERVE--I LIVE IN ASBURY PARK AND AM PLANNING A DAY TO GO BEAR WATCHING--IF WE CAN POSSIBLY FIND ANY--IF ANYONE KNOWS A PLACE WHERE THEY THINK OUR CHANCES OF SEEING BEARS IN THE WILD ARE GOOD PLEASE LET ME KNOW SO WE CAN MAKE THE MOST OF OUR DAY-THANK YOU
Julie
16 Jul 2009, 13:35
I was inside my house in Denville two days ago and saw a black bear in my garbage can. He/she wandered into the woods when he was done so I went outside to clean up the mess. As I was lifting the can upright, another bear appeared from the side of the house about 10 feet away. I dropped everything, ran inside and the second bear went to town on the garbage! It was pretty scary!
M
16 Jul 2009, 08:56
A HUGE Brown bear came through my font field this morning. Not black, but brown. Big with a rust-colored face. I live on the border of Randolph and Mendham on 6 acres and my house backs up to a residential neighborhood. I called 911 and then drove to the neighborhood behind us to let people that were outside know. It was a BIG bear. Our neighbors dog (who lives on 6 fence-in acres) has been going crazy for the last two days and nights, acting very strange. This morning she was going crazy barking at the bear and it ran right to the fence and then along the fence to the woods. That dog was relentless. Very scary.
Robert N
13 Jul 2009, 10:05
grassfox you are correct there is less and less wilderness in this state do to the constant building going on and the MCMANSIONS going up. We do need a bear hunt, the state needs to limit the amount of licenses for bow and gun hunters by lottery,and only shoot the males, not Momma bear and her cubs. The bears habitat is srinking ever year. I love nature and I beleive in conserving for our children and theirs. But a hunt is needed. And they have some fact's wrong. Black bears will kill you,your children and your pets and don't ever come between a mother and her cubs You will have no chance against her, like every mom with there babies. You have a better chance playing dead for a Grizzly or Brown bear. If you ever get attacted by a black bear fight for your life. Punch it in the nose and eyes. And if you like hiking bring bear spray with you ( pepper spray ) you can get it any hunting store. Protect your self and family and nature. One last thing grassfox if a bear comes after your grandchildren or you shoot it if you can. I have friends in PA that tell me bears have gone right thorgh glass sliding doors and have trap and attacted people in there houses. If they are hungry and they want in they are coming in. In most cases it's male bears.
Lori
13 Jul 2009, 07:46
I have lived in Long Valley, NJ since Sept 2005 and up till last weekend I had never seen a bear. Well, On Sunday 7/5/09 while out riding through Millbrook, a HUGE black bear walked right out in front of my husband and daughter who were riding on our motorcycle. He was probably about 800lbs! Walked right over a guardrail like it wasnt even there. Then on Saturday 7/11/09 while in Ogdensburg visiting the Sterling Mine a smaller black bear walked right down the stree in front of us at a stop sign then to t op it all off Sunday 7/12/09 while bar-b qing in my yard another small bear came romping through my front yard!!!!\r\nI am still amazed at how many I have seen in just a week. They are majestic but scary as hell!!!!
Melanie
13 Jun 2009, 09:16
I saw my first black bear the day before yesterday, at about noon, while driving down Ringwood Ave in Wanaque. The bear walked right out from some trees and ran across the street and into a clearing behind a house. It was beautiful!
Walt Godek
20 Apr 2009, 17:50
I hike Allamuchy Mountain state park regularly averaging 3 hikes a week all year around and I have seen numerous bears in the North section of the park. Some New Jersey bears are Huge, and I mean Huge! Much larger than images of black bears on nature shows. They are also (Thank God) very timid. One other interesting fact in that they are active all year around. Food sources from dumpsters and Restraunts no doubt contribute to their size. My first siting this year was in January along the Green trail in back of Cranbury lake. This Bear was definitely not in a daze or stumbling around, as I followed his tracks for well over 1 mile until they crossed a south facing slope where the snow had melted. More research needs to be done on these Jersey Giants because they are definitely adapting differently to our area. Oh, Somthing else lives along the Rt. 80 corridor through Allamuchy Mountain, I have seen Mountain Lion tracks numeerous times this winter and last fall I sighted one near the summit of Mt. Allamuchy just off of the Purple trail. LINK to BEar Tracks in January...\r\n http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/JgUu2y6pz7aTD6V4TQzPGg?feat=directlink
grassfox
19 Apr 2009, 16:49
How are bears assets? They are assets only if they can be used as a food source which is why we need a hunting season for bears. Also, it bears (no pun intended) mentioning that THERE ARE NO WILDERNESS AREAS IN NEW JERSEY!
grassfox
18 Apr 2009, 01:16
I know that in New Jersey a person can be fined for intentionally and even unintentionally feeding a black bear. So, if a bear kills and eats one of my grandchildren would I be fined for unintentionally feeding a bear?
jessica
10 Apr 2009, 19:50
how much water do black bears drink each day?
Orion
10 Jan 2008, 12:55
You need to update the info on this page.

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