Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Black Bear Seen in Princeton

 This notice from the University:

Date:  Monday, June 20

Incident:  Black Bear Sighting

At approximately 2 pm. on Monday, June 20, a black bear sighting was reported on the Lake Campus (300 Washington Road).

Black bears by nature tend to be wary of people.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has tips on black bears available at https://nj.gov/dep/fgw/bears/index.html

A compendium of previous black bear sightings can be found by typing "bear" into the search box for this blog. They include an explanation of why black bears come wandering our way this time of year, which has to do with young males seeking new territory.

Many people wonder how to behave when a bear is encountered. Below are the fruits of my research, conducted ten years ago and adapted for a Princeton audience. These words are as relevant now as they were then. Please note that grizzly bears, which are not found around here, require a completely different response.

Black bears are near-sighted, so make noise to avoid surprising them. If the bear stands up on its hind legs, don’t worry. It’s just trying to see you better. Make sure the bear has an escape route. For instance, if it is following you out of the public library, hold the door open and give it plenty of room. If you encounter the bear in the woods, or on Nassau Street, you can back away slowly, but don't turn your back to the bear. In a calm, assertive voice, put the bear on notice that you are a Princetonian fully armed with opinions, and will not hesitate to express them.

Avoid eye contact. If it doesn't run away right off, bang the pot you happen to be carrying with you, or download a "kitchenware noise" app on your cellphone. Bears hate to cook, which explains their interest in garbage. Otherwise, clap your hands, raise your arms over your head, wave a jacket, all of which should make you look large and impressive.

On rare occasions, the bear will do a bluff charge, at speeds up to 35 mph. If a cafe is close by, this is a good time to duck in for a double latte. If that option is not available, then you'll need to dig deep. Fleeing will only make you appear weak. Perhaps the stirring words of a high school football coach will come to mind. In any case, stand your ground, wave your arms and shout. Pretend you're in front of town council, venting your outrage over moving the Dinky. The bear should veer away from you at the last moment, providing a bigger thrill than any 3D movie at the mall.

If the bear actually attacks, which is extremely rare, it's time to drop all remaining pretense of civility. Fight back. Don't worry about the bear's lack of access to dental care. Without asking permission, bop it on the nose. Bears' noses are 100 times more sensitive than ours. Use this sensitivity to your advantage, all the while reveling in what a great story this will make to tell the grandkids.

Note: In case you surf the internet for more info, don't be confused by accounts of how to behave when encountering a grizzly bear out west, where the protocol is completely different and not nearly so gallant.


  1. Wendy Ludlum6/21/2022 1:21 PM

    too funny! thanks. you are the bestr.

  2. Awesome tips 😄😄😄