NBCPhiladelphia.com - Ted Greenberg
Nine black bears have been spotted in Ocean County in the past two weeks causing concern and getting into local garbage cans.
Lately, Ocean County, N.J. residents have had some unusual visitors.
Jackson Township has reported nine black bear sightings in the past two weeks -- more than have ever been seen in the area in such a short period of time, according to authorities.
The bears have been going through trash and don’t hesitate to destroy anything in their way, residents say.
One resident had his screen torn through when what's believed to have been a determined bear came onto the property and left trash all over his backyard.
“This part right here was ripped out... I don’t think a raccoon or coyote would be strong enough to do that kind of damage,” said Jackson Township resident George Davies.
Experts said it's possible that people have spotted the same one or two bears multiple times. The bears have not been aggressive toward people, but locals are urged to take precautions when it comes to leaving their trash outside.
“I don’t want to, but I’m probably going to have to put it in the garage,” said Todd Lapushinsky, a Jackson Township resident who found bear-sized paw prints on his back deck and trash strewn across the yard Tuesday morning.
Black bear sightings are most common in northwestern New Jersey, but the creatures have appeared in all 21 counties.
In order to protect their trash from hungry visitors, residents can use bear-resistant trash cans or try to keep their trash somewhere that bears can’t get to it. It is illegal to intentionally feed black bears in New Jersey.