Friday, June 7, 2013

Black Bear Spotted in Princeton

Last night the Princeton Police reported that a black bear was spotted near Arreton Road and Route 206 shortly before 9 pm. Police advised people to secure their garbage cans and warned them not to approach the bear if they saw it.

Earlier yesterday a resident of the WoodsEdge development in Montgomery reported seeing a bear in her backyard sniffing around her barbecue grill. There were also sightings on other properties along the Montgomery-Princeton border. On Monday a bear was spotted behind the Village Elementary School in Montgomery.

This isn't the first time black bears have been spotted in our area. Last summer a black bear showed up in various spots around town, including the Princeton Cemetery.

The Princeton Police Department has issued an advisory stating the NJDEP's "Bear Safety Tips":

Black bears by nature tend to be wary of people. However, if you encounter a black bear in your neighborhood or outdoors while hiking or camping, follow these common-sense safety tips. 

Never feed or approach a bear!

Remain calm if you encounter a bear.

Make the bear aware of your presence by speaking in an assertive voice, singing, clapping your hands, or making other noises.

Make sure the bear has an escape route.

If a bear enters your home, provide it with an escape route by propping all doors open.

Avoid direct eye contact, which may be perceived by a bear as a challenge. Never run from a bear. Instead, slowly back away.

To scare the bear away, make loud noises by yelling, banging pots and pans or using an airhorn. Make yourself look as big as possible by waving your arms. If you are with someone else, stand close together with your arms raised above your head.

The bear may utter a series of huffs, make popping jaw sounds by snapping its jaws and swat the ground. These are warning signs that you are too close. Slowly back away, avoid direct eye contact and do not run.

If a bear stands on its hind legs or moves closer, it may be trying to get a better view or detect scents in the air. It is usually not a threatening behavior.

Black bears will sometimes "bluff charge" when cornered, threatened or attempting to steal food. Stand your ground, avoid direct eye contact, then slowly back away and do not run.

If the bear does not leave, move to a secure area.

Report black bear damage or nuisance behavior to the DEP's 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 1-877-WARN DEP (1-877-927-6337).

Families who live in areas frequented by black bears should have a "Bear Plan" in place for children, with an escape route and planned use of whistles and air horns.

Black bear attacks are extremely rare. If a black bear does attack, fight back!
Photo: NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife