NJ Warning: Don't Feed the Bears

Mating season, food search may mean increase in black bear encounters

New Jersey wildlife officials say black bears are entering their most active period of the year as they search for food and mates.

That means encounters between the bruins and humans will become more likely, especially in northwestern areas.

Officials are reminding residents that feeding the bears is illegal and punishable by fines of up to $1,000.

They're also urging people to secure trash cans and items such as pet food or bird seed that might attract bears.

A bear was rescued after climbing a tree near exit 8 of the Turnpike in East Windsor last week. The 300-pound male bear was released in a nearby wildlife management area after it was captured.

New Jersey's black bear population has grown in recent years, with bear sightings reported in all 21 counties.

It's believed there are now more than 3,400 bears in New Jersey, with most living in the northwest corner of the state.

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Copyright AP - Associated Press
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