Bear FactsInfo supplied by NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services
Recent bear sightings around Yankee Lake and some facts:
Black bears and humans have much in common; both are highly adaptable, learn quickly, and teach their young. Today, there are more black bears than ever before, and they are an important natural resource.
If you see a bear, you should never go near it. Do not feed (against the law and dangerous) or try to pet a bear. Treat them with respect.
Adult female bears, called sows, weight about 175 lbs. Adult males, called boars, weigh about 400 lbs. They are about 3 ft. high when standing on all four feet, 5 to 7 ft. high when upright, and they can live for more than 25 years. Black bears are omnivores (eat both meat and plants). They primarily eat vegetation – grasses, plants, berries, acorns, bees, ants, termites, fish, compost piles, and garbage. Their dietary changes are evident in the piles of scat left behind.
In the East, bears are nearly black. Some may be brown or cinnamon colored. They spend the winters in dens to avoid cold weather and lack of food in forests. They go into a long winter’s sleep, called torpor. They are not true hibernators, so they may wake up on mild days to search for food and males typically emerge before females.
Adult females give birth to baby bears, called cubs. Breeding occurs June through July; cubs are born in January or February, and weigh between 8 and 16 oz. They are born blind, nurse their mother’s milk, three is the average litter size, and twins are common. Cubs are weaned by September, weigh about 80 lbs. by the time they are one-year old, remain with their mother for 1.5 years, and are then called yearlings. When they leave their mother, they move to their own area, called a home range, and they are strong swimmers, climb trees, move rocks, and tear logs apart.
Bears have a strong sense of smell, which may lead them to your garbage, birdseed or pet food if it is available in your yard. Keep your garbage in a secure location in a bear-resistant container, only put it outside on the collection night, and wash the garbage cans with a disinfectant solution so they don’t attract bears.
Try not to feed your pets outside, except during the day. Please clean up any food they do not eat and bring the food bowl inside when done. Protect your pets by bringing them indoors at night or secure their pen, and walk your dog on a leash.
Birdseed attracts bears, so it is best to only feed birds in the winter. Hang your birdfeeder at least 10 feet off the ground, 10 feet away from tree branches, and pick up seeds that spill on the ground.
If camping, please keep a clean campsite. Do not store food in or near your tent. Keep food items and sweet-smelling things like toothpaste in the trunk of your car.
When hiking, make noise by singing, whistling, talking, or wearing your keys to alert bears to your presence. If you see a bear, DO NOT RUN, back away slowly, and get to a safe area. A bear that stands up wants to see and smell you. Let a bear know you are there by waving your arms and talking very loud, and this may scare them away. Make sure the bear can get out of your path and yard easily. Do not block the exit. If you are with friends, get in a big group, wave your arms, and talk loudly.
Also see the YLPA webpage for identifying animal tracks: