Bear Proof Garbage Receptacles

Information Release – Distribution of Bear Proof Garbage Receptacles

As news reports have indicated over the past week, the NJ DEP Fish & Wildlife has asked the Township of Jefferson to participate in a pilot program to distribute 497 bear-proof garbage receptacles to deter bear encounters based on garbage as a food source.

Residents should understand this is a pilot program, not just a free receptacle giveaway. Initial meetings with NJ DEP and the intent of this pilot program are to distribute these receptacles in areas of the Township with a higher incidence of bear encounters and to study the effectiveness of these receptacles. Data was based on calls to the NJ DEP Bear Hotline. In addition, reports to our local police were also considered. There have been a total of 55 bear complaints to our police department throughout the community since 2022.

The community identified by NJ DEP with the most reports to the NJ DEP hotline was the Lake Shawnee area, the Township’s largest development of 567 homes surrounded by thousands of acres of protected undeveloped land. The attached map, provided by NJ DEP, indicates the bear encounter reports throughout the Township.

My administration met virtually with NJ DEP on April 25th to finalize the details and institute a plan for distribution to the community. As part of this pilot program, which is again to study the effectiveness of these containers, NJ DEP would like to see the Lake Shawnee area studied. Based on the overwhelming response we had from the community and realizing most of the community encounters bears due to garbage as a food source, we have put together the following plan for distributing these receptacles to include other areas of the community. The Lake Shawnee area will be allocated 125 containers, and the remaining Lake Hopatcong section will receive 125 containers. The Oak Ridge section of the community will be allocated a total of 247 containers.

The distribution of these bear-proof receptacles will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis. To secure your receptacle, please click the link to complete the online form, which is also located on the Township webpage: BEAR PROOF BEAR RECEPTACLE FORM. This form will be shared with the NJ DEP Fish & Wildlife, and by submitting it, you agree to participate in any future surveys issued by the NJ DEP Fish & Wildlife. To maximize the program’s effectiveness, we recommend that participating residents reside in areas with previous bear encounters. Please note that we are unable to accept requests over the phone; all requests must be made online. For those without Internet access, our public library has computers available.

Once we reach the allotted requests for each area, the distribution of the cans will be coordinated with our Administration and the residents receiving a receptacle. Residents will be assigned a time to pick up the cans at the Public Works Garage. An email will be sent with a time and date for pick-up.

Further questions regarding this pilot program can be directed to Erin Chon at NJ DEP, Phone: (805) 674-5932, Email: