Page 6 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • December 2, 2009 Franklin Lakes State advises borough: Learn to live with bears by Frank J. McMahon A New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife representative has told Franklin Lakes residents that the black bear population is growing, and they must educate themselves about the animals. About 15 residents attended the free seminar presented by wildlife biologist Michele Ruggiero. Ruggiero explained that the state will not trap and remove black bears from an area unless there is a serious threat to public safety and when the state does step in, the bear is only moved to the nearest forested area from which they often return. She said most of the calls she has received from residents pertain to cases in which a bear is rummaging in garbage cans or dumpsters or is looking for food that is inadvertently left outside, or sometimes set outside deliberately to feed the bears. “It is illegal to feed bears in New Jersey,” she emphasized, “and it is dangerous.” When a bear appears on a residential property, she advises that one should not try to feed or approach the bear, but remain calm and make the bear aware of his or her pres- DeBoer Brothers Landscaping CHRISTMAS TREE PURCHASE WITH THIS AD (Expires 12/22/09) $5.00 OFF A black bear eating out of a bird feeder overlooking Franklin Lake. (Located behind Oakland Drug Store) 15 Terhune Street, Oakland, NJ 201-337-8244 ence by speaking in a calm, assertive voice while making sure the bear has an escape route. She recommended yelling, banging pots and pans, or using an air horn to scare away the bear and to make oneself look as big as possible by waving one’s arms above one’s head. Sometimes a bear may swat the ground and utter a series of huffs, make popping sounds by snapping its jaws, Ruggiero said, explaining that these are warning signs that a person is too close to the bear. “Slowly back away and avoid direct eye contact,” Ruggiero said. “Do not run and if a bear stands on its hind legs or moves closer, it may be trying to get a better view or to detect scents in the air. That is usually not a threatening behavior,” Ruggiero said. But she explained that if a bear begins to bluff a charge because it is cornered or threatened, one should stand his or her ground because the bear will veer off before contact. If the bear will not leave, Ruggiero said humans should head for shelter. “Remember that black bear attacks are extremely rare, but if a black bear does attack, one should fight back and punch its eyes and nose and not play dead because black bears like to eat dead animals,” Ruggiero advised. During her seminar, she pointed out that black bears, which can live for 25 years, are most active at dawn and dusk, but could appear any time there is food available to them. They can smell food from three miles away, they have excellent hearing and they can run up to 35 miles per hour. They are strong swimmers and excellent climbers, and both adults and cubs will climb trees for food and to escape disturbances. She advised that black bears eat both plants and animals and their diet mostly consists of skunk cabbage, berries, wild cherries, acorns, and beechnuts, insects, small mammals, and dead animals. “Black bears are opportunistic feeders, Ruggiero said, “and they will supplement their diet with food or garbage left out by people.” According to information provided by Ruggiero, adult female bears (sows) average 200 pounds and adult males (boars) average 400 pounds. Not all black bears are black. They can be brown, cinnamon, blonde, white, and even gray-blue. Fifteen percent of New Jersey’s bears have a white chest blaze. “During winter, black bears undergo a period of dormancy in dens to avoid severe weather and food shortages, and since black bears are not true hibernators, they may leave their dens if disturbed, or to search for food on mild winter days,” the biologist noted. Den sites include rock cavities, brush piles, open ground nests, and hollow trees. Bears do not eat, drink, urinate or defecate while in dens, but females can give birth and nurse their young there. The breeding season runs from late May until August, peaking in June and July. Up to five cubs can be born to one sow, and they grow to 100 pounds during the first year. Seventy percent of the cubs survive the first year, and they stay with the sow until she breeds again approximately 18 to 24 months later. Nearly wiped out 60 years ago by habitat destruction and indiscriminate killing, Ruggiero said since 1953, when they were established as a game animal, black bears have been thriving, particularly in the northwestern area of the (continued on page 8) 12-2-09 joan/janine DeBoerLandscapingColor2x3(12-2-09) 2x3” Home Decorating Deals at Home Hardware Early Decorating Special 10% OFF* all holiday decorating supplies Limited time offer *excludes GE Pro-Line 150 light set GE Pro-Line® 150 Outdoor Mini Light Set Buy 3, get 1 FREE* Reg. $14.99 each • • • • Clear bulbs 5” spacing between bulbs Can string up to 6 sets together for total 62-ft. lighted length Professional grade *10% discount does not apply Large variety of LED light sets in stock to choose from 27 Franklin Turnpike • Waldwick 201-652-5666 OPEN SUNDAY 9-3 Mon-Wed 7:30-6, Thurs & Fri 7:30-8 Sat 8-5