Proper trash handling is best for bears

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:02

    To the editor: Your papers have often covered the stories of bears and garbage. Since 2003 The BEAR Group has manufactured and distributed thousands of black bear-resistant garbage cans. We know that no matter how many bears are killed in a bear hunt, the wildlife managers of NJ intend to maintain a healthy bear population for recreational hunting year after year (firearms now, but bow-and-arrow in the future). Therefore it is only serious public education and enforced garbage control that will prevent unwanted encounters and “nuisance” bear behavior. Printed in the “Living in Bear Country” pamphlet published and distributed by the NJ Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife is a salient statement: “Proper storage of residential garbage is the best method for prevention of nuisance problems.” I think it is a shame the division does not see to it that residents comply with the law and instead spend an extraordinary amount of resources on bear population studies, bear hunt training courses, and weighing “harvested” bears. Let’s get pro-active and prevent problems. Only a very few offenders of the Nov 2002 law (that prohibits allowing bears access to garbage) have been fined. This law must be enforced, first by warning offenders and then, if necessary, fining those that continue violating the law. One family’s negligence should not make problems for an entire neighborhood and should not result in the needless “euthanizing” of a “problem” bear created by irresponsible human behavior. I was pleased to hear Commissioner Campbell announce on June 17 in West Milford that he would begin a pilot study of the usefulness of bear-resistant trash containers. We were all very surprised to see he made his announcement with our BEAR Group’s Critter Can (a bear-resistant garbage can we manufacture by attaching handles to the Eagle Mfg. Co.’s hazardous waste labpack 1600SL). What’s the status of that pilot study? I find it humorous that he has turned the BEAR Group’s labels away from the cameras. In early September I wrote NJ Fish and Wildlife requesting our group and our products be included on the DEP/FandW website list of garbage can manufacturers. To my great surprise it took me three emails and a phone call over this two month period to finally get a response from NJ DEP or Fish and Wildlife. Each time I emailed them, I would include another recipient’s address, hoping someone would get back to me. Finally yesterday (Nov 6) Liz Jackson replied that they would NOT list the BEAR Group or our products but offered no reason why. Yet I know their website includes a company that sells the same screw-top container without hardware attached. The BEAR Group always sells cans and carts with hardware attached and ready to use. What could their reason be I wonder? Perhaps the more “nuisance” bears, the easier it is for them to justify a bear hunt? The BEAR Group will be exhibiting our can and cart and distributing information regarding the importance of securing trash from bears at this year’s NJ League of Municipalities Conference in Atlantic City, Nov 15-17. We will be in Booth #2145 and hope that many municipal officials will stop by to see what we have done. Our volunteers are more than willing to assist towns and lake communities in setting up garbage management programs of their own. This Sunday we will be assisting Rockaway Twp. Health Dept. with the preparation of 30-gallon bear-resistant cans for their residents (just as we have done for Hardyston Twp). Susan Stringfield Garbage Management Coordinator for The BEAR Group Highland Lakes