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(908) 879-3660

50 North Road
Chester, NJ 07930

50 North Road
Chester, NJ 07930

Bear Facts for Municipalities

Every New Jersey Community Can Benefit from Learning More about Black Bears


The number-one black bear related complaint received by Fish and Wildlife each year is black bears getting into trash. Human garbage is attractive to black bears, and it is often an easily obtainable, high-energy food source. Residents should be aware that it is illegal to feed black bears in New Jersey, either intentionally or unintentionally. Anyone who feeds bears could face a penalty of up to $1,000 for each offense.

In an effort to increase garbage management efforts within bear habituated communities, municipal officials are encouraged to work with local waste haulers to make certified bear-resistant garbage containers available to residents and businesses. A list of manufacturers who produce bear-resistant trash containers can be found on our Garbage Management page.

Municipal leaders are encouraged to:

  • Educate their residents about ways to avoid attracting bears.
  • Promote use of proper garbage management techniques, including bear-resistant containers.
  • Ensure that residents are aware of how to report black bear damage or nuisance behavior.

See DEP Bear Facts Publications and Materials available to the public.

To receive print copies or bulk quantities of the available materials, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or DEP Local Government Assistance Office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Communities frequented by bears and interested in minimizing encounters between people and bears should consider passing a local waste disposal ordinance to further public health and welfare. A town ordinance should require that all trash in residential areas is properly secured in certified bear-resistant containers. If any trash is left unsecured within the community, bears will become trash-habituated and will become a nuisance and possibly aggressive or dangerous.

The following sample waste management ordinance has been developed as a tool for New Jersey’s communities with high bear densities. The sample ordinance is based on one that was adopted by Eagle County, Colorado in 2007. The ordinance requires the use of only certified bear-resistant containers and enclosures throughout the community.

See DEP Sample Garbage Management Ordinance for Communities (pdf)