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If you have yet to see a black bear up close, you're missing an exquisite example of nature's beauty and majesty.Here in the Skylands region of New Jersey some residents can catch a glimpse right in their own backyards.They are the most common bear in North America and are certainly not strangers to the Garden State.The black bear is present in 11 of the 21 counties.When they emerge in the spring in a fairly groggy state, they don't eat for about two to three weeks. That last month prior to denning they're consuming up to 20,000 calories a day.They will need 50 to 60 pounds of fat to sustain them through the winter months.There are 600 bears tagged by the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife in New Jersey.

This is due to the optimal food sources here in New Jersey. Bears that associate food with people may become aggressive and dangerous. If you are at close range, remain standing, avoid direct eye contact. Yell, bang pots, or use an airhorn to scare the bear away.And they will help themselves to seeds in a bird feeder or a squirrel's stash of nuts if they sniff it out.The bears need to add fat to get through their winter denning period.They are also highly adaptable within their habitat; they can live in both arid and moist forests.Although much of the bear's historical habitat has now been populated by humans, this ingenious animal has managed not only to survive but to thrive.

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According to the Division of Fish and Game, 46 road-killed bears were recovered in 1999.