Before venturing out today, you might want to read yesterday's (June 8) report on two bear sightings in Princeton, at PlanetPrinceton.com. Below is a link to the state website's information on important bear facts, and my notes from last year's DEP presentation, about the history of bears in NJ and why young bears are roaming into new territory this time of year.
Notes from a June, 2012 presentation by the NJ Dept. of Environmental Protrection:
Here is what I learned, mixed with some info from the states informative website: Black bears used to range over all of what is now NJ, but were killed indiscriminately until 1953, when they were given some protection under New Jersey's game laws. The hunting season was closed in 1971. Over the past fifteen years, their population has spread from northwest New Jersey until they have now been sighted in every county in NJ. Despite the expansion, funding for bear management has faced deep cuts. Complaints about bears doubled from 2006 to 2008, but have remained fairly stable since then. Hunts were allowed in 2010 and 2011 during a five day stretch in December.
In spring, the one and a half year olds head out to seek new territory. Bears are highly territorial, and the young bears much prefer to seek new territories than to risk what can be very violent and debilitating battles with already established bears. Princeton's recent visits by bears are of this nature.
Lots of photos were shown of bear-proof trash cans, and bears climbing up to empty the contents of birdfeeders. Another showed a garage door bent out of shape by bears seeking food. Since any bear that experiences the satisfactions of garbage will seek more of the same, it's important that homeowners in northern Jersey and other areas where bears have become numerous act in concert to keep food out of reach. Some towns have passed ordinances to regulate trash storage.