Black bears were here before anyone even knew what a Jersey Shore was, or what a New Jersey was for that matter. They predated European expansion in this area and today are the largest land mammal in the Garden state.
They are often associated with the northwestern region of the state- West Milford and up, but there have actually been black bear sightings in all 21 counties of the state. Despite the fact that they are thriving, the way you react to black bears really depends on where you live.
In Sussex County and other heavily wooded regions, they are quite common and people do not really blink an eye at them. Start heading due east or south though, and any black bear sighting makes the daily news. I’m talking bring in the helicopters and point the camera at whatever tree the black bear is hiding in.
The logic follows that those who are exposed more to the black bear are more comfortable with seeing them and those who think it is a spectacle are going to be more uneasy with their presence.
The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife wants every resident to be prepared for bear sightings and to coexist with the large, garbage-loving animals. They have dedicated a whole part of their website to knowing the Bear Facts about the original residents of New Jersey.
On this site, you can read safety tips, look up their history in the region, and get updated activity reports. You can prevent them coming to your front door as best you can by always making sure your garbage is secure, but this is where they live too so avoiding them all together is not the best solution. The best solution is being prepared. As it says on the NJDEP site, “Preventing problems with black bears is everyone’s responsibility.”
Below are some videos of bear sightings all over New Jersey: