Mosquitos, Deer & Bears, Oh My

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Mosquitos, Deer & Bears, Oh My

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:

  • Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers that have accumulated on your property.
  • Pay special attention to discarded tires that may have accumulated. The used tire has become the most important domestic mosquito producer in this country.
  • Drill holes in the bottom and elevate recycling containers that are left out of doors.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters on an annual basis, particularly if the leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug up the drains. Roof gutters are easily overlooked but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
  • Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use. A wading pool becomes a mosquito producer if it is not used on a regular basis.
  • Turn over wheelbarrows and do not allow water to stagnate in bird baths.
  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens are fashionable but become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used. A swimming pool that is left untended can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighborhood-wide complaints. Be aware mosquitoes may even breed in the water that collects on pool covers.
  • Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property. Mosquitoes will develop in any puddle that lasts more than four days.
  • Maintain mechanical barriers, such as window and door screens, to prevent mosquitoes from entering buildings. Barriers over rain barrels or cistern and septic pipes will deny female mosquitoes the opportunity to lay eggs on water.
  • If you have problems controlling mosquitoes, contact your county mosquito control agency by calling 888.666.5968.

For more information visit www.nj.gov/dep/mosquito and www.state.nj.us/health/cd/westnile.


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:

  • If you spot a deer, slow down and pay attention to possible sudden movement. If the deer doesn’t move, don’t go around it. Wait for the deer to pass and the road is clear.
  • Pay attention to “Deer Crossing” signs. They are there for a reason. Slow down when traveling through areas known to have a high concentration of deer so you will have ample time to stop if necessary.
  • If you are traveling after dark, use high beams when there is no oncoming traffic. High beams will be reflected by the eyes of deer on or near roads.
  • If you see one deer, be on guard: others may be in the area. Deer typically move in family groups at this time of year and cross roads single-file.
  • Don’t tailgate. Remember: the driver in front of you might have to stop suddenly to avoid hitting a deer.
  • Always wear a seatbelt, as required by law. Drive at a safe and sensible speed, taking into account weather, available lighting, traffic, curves and other road conditions.
  • If a collision appears inevitable, do not swerve to avoid impact. The deer may counter-maneuver suddenly. Brake firmly, but stay in your lane. Collisions are more likely to become fatal when a driver swerves to avoid a deer and instead collides with oncoming traffic or a fixed structure along the road.
  • Report any deer-vehicle collision to a local law enforcement agency immediately.

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:

  • Reducing conflicts with bears is a community effort. It only takes several households with unsecured food for bears to create a nuisance bear that could affect an entire neighborhood.
  • Invest in bear-proof garbage containers. If not using bear-proof garbage containers, store all garbage in containers with tight fitting lids in a secure area such as a basement, the inside wall of a garage, or a shed.
  • Put garbage out on collection day, not the evening before.
  • Wash garbage containers with a disinfectant at least once a week to eliminate odors. Draping ammonia or bleach soaked cloth over containers will help to eliminate odors.
  • Do not place meat or sweet food scraps in compost piles.
  • Feed birds only from December 1 to April 1, when bears are least active.
  • When feeding birds when bears are active, suspend birdfeeders at least 10 feet off the ground. Clean up spilled seeds and shells daily.
  • Feed outdoor pets during daylight hours only. Immediately remove all food scraps and bowls after feeding.
  • Clean outdoor grills thoroughly after each use. Grease and food residue can attract bears.
  • Do not leave food unattended while camping or picnicking.
  • Store all food items in coolers inside vehicles where they can not be seen or in bear-proof food storage lockers at State Park facilities.
  • Never feed a black bear. It is dangerous and against the law.
  • Report bear damage or nuisance behavior to your local police department or to the Division of Fish and Wildlife at 877.927.6337.

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.

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