Eustace Introduces Bill to Reduce Black Bear Intrusions in Communities

Bill Implements Recommendations of the Fish and Game Councilfrom the 2010 Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy

(TRENTON) – Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Bergen, Passaic) recently introduced legislation that would minimize the intrusion of black bears into human habitat by reducing the number of black bear feedings that occur as a result of misplaced or mismanaged food and other bear attractants.

Current law prohibits certain acts when undertaken with the intention of feeding and attracting or enticing black bears.

“Regulation is necessary in order to ensure the proper steps are being taken in communities that are prone to black bear intrusions,” said Eustace. “We can curb the problem of bears drawn into our communities by using the appropriate trash receptacles and food storage containers. This is not just for the sake of our communities but also for the safety of the bears.”

The bill (A-4017) would amend current law to prohibit certain acts when undertaken for any purpose, in a manner that will result in the feeding, attracting, or enticing of black bears when black bears are known to frequent the area, regardless of intent.

Current law also provides an exemption from this prohibition for the use and placement of bait for deer. Under this bill, the exemption would be eliminated and would prohibit baiting for deer in municipalities located in the black bear habitat. Agricultural operations that result in bear feedings would remain expressly exempt from the prohibition.

The bill also would prohibit any person from storing food waste or other bear-attracting refuse outdoors in any municipality located in habitat occupied by bears, whether at curbside for collection or elsewhere for any other purpose, unless the food waste or other bear attracting refuse is stored in a bear-resistant container or bear-resistant dumpster.

“New Jersey parks and recreation sites are prone to visits from the blear bear population looking for food,” added Eustace. “Some sites may have already begun to take steps to provide bear resistant containers for campers and visitors. This legislation encourages others in communities near bear habitats to better protect themselves from further intrusions.”

In addition, the bill would also impose a duty on public and private campgrounds and state camping facilities located in bear habitat to provide and maintain bear-resistant dumpsters and bear-resistant food boxes, or alternatives thereto approved by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), for the disposal and storage of food and other bear attractants.

The bill would also impose a duty on certain closed communities located in a bear habitat to provide and maintain bear-resistant dumpsters, or alternatives thereto approved by the DEP, in a number sufficient to meet all of the community’s output of food waste and other bear-attracting refuse. The term “closed community” is defined in the bill and includes residential condominiums, cooperatives, fee simple communities, or horizontal property regimes, but not apartment buildings or apartment complexes.

The bill establishes a civil penalty with a minimum fine of $50 and a maximum fine of $1,000 for a violation of any provision in the bill.

The measure has been referred to the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.