New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection has announced it will increase and enhance nonlethal management of black bears. By reducing the interactions between humans and bears, these activities complement the Governor's executive order closing state lands to the 2018 bear hunt. The DEP will assign additional Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers leading up to and during the hunt period to ensure public safety and enforce regulations. The DEP will also provide bear-safety information to residents and hold a large regional training session for law enforcement officers on methods to safely and effectively manage interactions between black bears and the public and, as necessary, respond to problem black bears. The DEP will continue to provide these training sessions to any law enforcement entity that requests them.In addition, the DEP will form an internal, cross-division team to work with counties and local governments to enhance their waste management policies and practices to prevent black bears from accessing food waste in a cost-effective manner.Moreover, the DEP will increase public outreach and education by hosting educational presentations in communities impacted by the black bear populations, as well as by distributing updated educational materials that focus on preventing bears from accessing human food. The Division of Fish and Wildlife will continue to provide educational presentations at the request of local communities.Last month, Governor Murphy issued an executive order prohibiting bear hunting on all state-owned land, including wildlife management areas, state parks, state forests and state natural areas. Hunting will still be permissible on other lands open to bear hunting, including private land, federal land, and county and municipal lands. The six-day Segment A of the bear season opens on Oct. 8. Segment B of the season is scheduled to begin Dec. 3.The black bear is New Jersey's largest land animal. It is an integral part of the state's natural heritage and is a vital part of healthy ecosystems. Black bears have been sighted in all 21 counties, but their population is densest in the northwestern part of the state, including Sussex, Warren, Passaic and Morris counties.Report bear damage, nuisance behavior or aggressive bears to the Wildlife Control Unit of the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife at 908-735-8793. During evenings and weekends, residents should call the local police department or the DEP Hotline at 877-WARN-DEP 877-927-6337.To learn more about New Jersey's black bears, their history in New Jersey and ways to avoid problems with them, visit www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/bearfacts.htm.