Over the last two weeks, Veronans have been seeing black bears in their neighborhood, neighboring towns and in the Mills Reservation that many of them enjoy for recreation. The appearances have prompted curiosity and concerns. To address both, Baristanet spoke with Linda Morschauser, a wildilife specialist with the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife’s Black Bear Project. Here’s some of what she had to say:
Is it safe to visit Mills Reservation with the bears in there?
If you feel comfortable, go ahead. But be alert and cautious. Keep your children next to you. Let them know these aren’t cuddly teddy bears. Stay on the trails, have a cell phone on you, don’t walk alone or after dark. Be aware of your surroundings. These are common sense things. Know how to react when you see a bear: don’t run, scream, or make eye contact. Just turn and walk away. Other tips for residents living nearby are to put ammonia in your garbage, double bag it, keep it inside, don’t feed your pets outside, and take down your bird feeders.
If you see a bear and don’t feel safe, call the police. If bears are in your backyard, make a ton of noise until they leave. You want to instill a fear of humans in them. That’s all you can do. We wouldn’t want everyone to be locked in their homes, terrified of the bears. We want to educate people to be able to live with them. You never know, there could be more bears coming into the area. Their population is slowly growing.
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