How Many Bears Live in New Jersey?

How Many Bears Exist in New Jersey?

How Many Bears Exist in New Jersey?

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How Many Bears Exist in New Jersey?NEW JERSEY - Once on the brink of disappearing from New Jersey entirely, black bears have staged a remarkable comeback. Their growing numbers – and expanding range into areas like Sussex, Passaic, Warren, and Morris counties – have sparked both excitement and concern.

Just How Many Bears Are We Talking About?

  • 2020 Estimate: The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife estimated that 3,158 bears live north of Interstate 78 and west of Interstate 287. This marked a significant increase from 2019's estimate of 2,208.
  • Growing Trend: Bear populations are expanding statewide. Sightings further south and east are becoming more common, prompting discussions about management strategies, including the potential reintroduction of bear hunting.

Why the Bear Boom?

  • Human Encroachment: As New Jersey's suburbs spread, human development pushes into bear habitat. This creates more opportunities for conflict.
  • Food Temptations: Unsecured trash, bird feeders, pet food, and even farm crops offer easy meals, drawing bears closer to populated areas.

The Dangers of Coexistence

Bear-human encounters are rising in New Jersey, mirroring trends in other states like Colorado. While most bears aren't aggressive, they are wild animals. Situations can quickly become dangerous when bears associate human areas with food.

What Can Be Done?

The solution is complex and involves a combination of:

  • Public Education: Teaching residents how to minimize bear attractants (securing trash and removing bird feeders during certain seasons) is crucial.
  • Bear-Resistant Measures: Communities may need to invest in bear-proof trash cans and explore other deterrents.
  • Management Strategies: The debate over whether a regulated hunt is necessary for population control continues.

Fascinating Facts About NJ Black Bears

  • Size Matters: Adult males can reach 400+ pounds, and females are smaller.
  • Mostly Vegetarian: Their diet mainly consists of berries, nuts, and insects with occasional scavenging.
  • Winter Dens: Black bears hibernate, lowering their metabolism to survive the food-scarce months.

New Jersey's bear population presents both challenges and opportunities. By understanding these magnificent creatures and taking proactive steps, we can strive for a safer coexistence.

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