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Black bear spotted in Ewing, New Jersey. Here's how to keep your home safe.

Bear watch in New Jersey: How to keep your home safe after bear sightings in Mercer County
Bear watch in New Jersey: How to keep your home safe after bear sightings in Mercer County 02:18

EWING, N.J. (CBS) -- The Ewing Police Department is asking the public to keep an eye out after reports of several bear sightings in Mercer County, New Jersey. Ewing Police said a bear was first spotted near a home on Louisiana Avenue around 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Barbara P. Brown has lived on the street for more than 60 years and said, "That was alarming to hear, very alarming because that's right in front of my door. 

Moments later, police said, an officer on patrol saw the bear a block away on Somerset Street but quickly lost sight of it.

Animal control officers canvassed the area but did not find anything. 

Another call came in Wednesday about a bear seen near the intersection of Route 31 and Interstate 295, but the call didn't warrant any further action, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said.

"I've been here almost 18 years of my life and I've never seen a bear in the city of Ewing, New Jersey, so for it to be a bear, hopefully I see it, but if I do see it, hopefully I'm in the car," said Messiah Crews, as he hopped into his pickup truck.

"It's been a long time since I've seen a bear, heard about a bear being within the area, so it's pretty surprising," said Blair Bartlett, who has lived in the township his whole life.

Depending on where you live in the Delaware Valley, there's a chance you could see a black bear out this season. According to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, this is the time of year when black bears leave their winter dens to search for food.

If you see a bear, police ask that you stay away and call 911.

How to keep black bears away from your house 

New Jersey Fish and Wildlife has some tips for how you can remove any potential food sources to avoid any run-ins with black bears.

It's illegal to feed bears, and you can be fined up to $1,000, state fish and wildlife officials said. They suggest having certified bear-resistant garbage cans or at least having tightly fitted lids on your disposal cans. The agency said it's best to keep your garbage cans inside a secure location like in your garage, shed or basement, where the bears are unlikely to see or smell the trash. 

When it comes to readying your garbage for the weekly pickup, opt to put the cans out front the morning of instead of the night before. 

Disinfect and wash garbage cans often to eliminate any odors that may attract bears. 

Bring pet food bowls inside. 

Clean your grill and utensils after use to avoid attractive food grease and residue. Keep your grill in a secure location. 

If you like to feed birds, suspend your feeder from a free-hanging wire at least 10 feet above the ground and 10 feet away from a tree trunk. Remove any excess spilled feed afterward. 

Do not put meats, dairy or other sweet foods in a compost pile.

Clear out any fruit or nuts that may have fallen from trees in your yard.

Opt to install protective electric fences around your crops, beehives or livestock. 

You can also report aggressive black bears or damage caused by them to New Jersey Fish and Wildlife by calling 1-877-927-6337. 

What to do if you encounter a black bear

According to the Humane Society, it's likely that the bear is more scared of you than you are of the animal. In fact, black bear attacks on people are quite rare. Here's how you can protect yourself from black bears.

Face the bear head-on. Don't run away, but don't approach them. 

Make yourself big, and spread your arms out wide.

Get loud by yelling or if you're able to, bang pots and pans together or use other devices that make noise.

If you have it, use bear spray if they approach you.

If the bear does attack you, fight back and don't surrender.

Once the bear moseys on out, get rid of whatever you think attracted them to where you were. 

The National Parks Service emphasizes never putting yourself between a mama bear and her cub. Don't even approach them. The likelihood of an attack escalates exponentially if the mother thinks you're a danger to her cubs. 

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