NJDEP, DHSS URGE RESIDENTS TO TAKE PRECAUTIONS AGAINST MOSQUITOES IN WAKE OF HEAVY SUMMER RAINFALL
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) are urging State residents to take precautions to protect themselves from mosquito-borne West Nile virus by taking some simple steps to reduce populations of the insect on their own properties.
Late summer and early fall are typically the most critical times of the year to be aware of the potential for the dangers of contracting West Nile virus from mosquito bites. Mosquito activity can continue until late October. Mosquitoes also can become more active throughout the entire day at this time of year.
Concerns are elevated this year because many areas of the State are still wet as a result of excessive rainfall over the late summer resulting largely from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Wet areas serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
In response, the State has stepped up its air surveillance of potential mosquito breeding grounds and aircraft pesticide applications to proactively reduce the threat of impacts to people. The state also has been working closely with county mosquito control programs to help them identify and respond to mosquito outbreaks in a timely manner.
“Given the record rainfall and large amounts of standing water, it is extremely important that residents follow personal protective measures, including using insect repellent when outdoors, limiting time outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, and wearing protective clothing during these hours,” said DHSS Acting Commissioner Dr. Tina Tan.
DHSS has identified four human cases of West Nile virus so far this year, with no fatalities. They were in Mercer, Middlesex, Morris and Ocean counties. The Morris County exposure to West Nile virus occurred outside of New Jersey. DHSS also reported that 25 birds have died from confirmed cases of West Nile virus in Gloucester, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Somerset and Warren counties.
Last year, there were 30 human cases of West Nile virus in New Jersey, including two deaths.
“Fortunately confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in New Jersey remain low this year,” said Bob Kent, Administrator of the NJDEP’s Office of Mosquito Control Coordination. “Still, it is prudent to take steps around your own home to keep mosquito populations – and health risks – in check.”
The NJDEP offers the following tips on how to limit mosquitoes on your property:
MOTORISTS URGED TO BE CAUTIOUS FOR DEER ON ROADS
The NJDEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is urging motorists to be on the alert for white-tailed deer on the roadways with the arrival of the fall breeding season, especially during the morning and evening commutes when visibility may be poor and deer activity is likely to be higher.
“White-tailed deer become most active and unpredictable during the annual fall rut,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director David Chanda. “At this time of year, deer are much more likely to dart into roadways without warning. Drivers need to be extra alert to
avoid collisions that could result in serious injuries or even death.”
Deer movements related to the rut are beginning now and will pick up in the coming weeks. Studies indicate that the peak of the mating season in New Jersey occurs during the first three weeks of November in northern counties and during the last three weeks in southern counties. Breeding can continue well into December in both regions.
Triggered by shorter days and cooler weather, deer disperse and move around considerably as they search for mates. Deer behavior is likely to be sudden and unpredictable.
In many instances, deer will wander closer to and onto roadways. They may suddenly stop in the middle of a road, crossing and even re-crossing it. The danger is particularly pronounced at dawn and dusk when many people are commuting to and from work. Visibility resulting from low light or sun glare may be difficult during these times.
Commuters should be especially alert and drive with additional caution when daylight saving time ends on Nov. 6. Normal driver commuting times will more closely align with peak deer activity periods after this time.
The NJDEP offers the following tips to help motorists stay safe:
For more information about white-tailed deer in New Jersey, visit www.njfishandwildlife.com.
RESIDENTS IN NORTH JERSEY ”BEAR COUNTRY” URGED TO SECURE TRASH AND OTHER RESIDENTIAL FOOD SOURCES
The NJDEP is advising residents and outdoor enthusiasts in North Jersey, especially in areas regularly frequented by black bears, to strictly adhere to guidelines for eliminating or securing potential black bear food sources during the fall period when bears feed extensively to build fat layers for hibernation.
Black bears may be especially on the hunt this season for high calorie foods, such as food scraps in household trash and bird seed from outdoor bird feeders, due to localized scarcities of acorns and other tree nuts, which are an important black bear food source known as ”mast.” Mast production, especially the acorn crop, is typically cyclical, and this year’s scarcity follows two very plentiful mast years. Factors such as gypsy moth infestation, spring frost, excessive spring rain and humidity influence the natural mast production cycle.
In low mast years, such as this year, bears are more likely to exploit alternative foods, such as human trash and bird seed, to provide the calories they need to prepare for winter. Homes and campgrounds become prime potential food sources for black bears when natural foods are in short supply.
The black bear population has stabilized this year in Northwest Jersey as a result of the State Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy, which includes a mix of education, research, hunting, and non-lethal techniques. The result has been a decrease in bear-human incidents compared to 2010. But the mast shortage will increase the potential for bear-human conflicts this fall as bears may become bolder and more persistent in searching for food near homes and campgrounds.
“Residents, hikers and campers can reduce the likelihood of attracting bears if they are aware of all potential food sources for bears and diligently bear-proof residences and camps by removing or properly securing any potential bear food,” said David Chanda, Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife.
The bear hunt is just one facet of the State’s Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy, which also includes public education, research, bear habitat analysis and protection, non-lethal bear management techniques, enforcement of laws, and efforts to keep human food sources, especially household trash, away from bears to limit bear-human encounters.
New Jersey residents and visitors should be aware that feeding or intentionally providing food for black bears is against the law. Violators could face a penalty of up to a $1,000 for each offense. Conservation Officers and State Park Police, along with local police departments, will be on the lookout for incidents where food is intentionally provided for black bears.
These simple rules for living in black bear country–particularly Morris, Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, northern Passaic, northern Somerset and western Bergen counties–will help minimize conflicts with black bears:
To learn more about New Jersey’s black bears, visit www.njfishandwildlife.com.
To read the State’s Comprehensive Black Bear management Policy, visit www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/bearfacts.htm.