Nearly a dozen South Jersey communities have reported black bear sightings within the past week, prompting reminders for residents to keep their distance instead of trying to get a closer look.

West Deptford Police said Monday that a bear was in the area of West Deptford High School, while later adding on the department Facebook page that the bruin "seems to have an appetite for bird seed and trash. Please bring in your bird feeders and secure your trash."

Mantua Township Police shared a warning Sunday that Gloucester County Animal Control had been notified of a black bear roaming several towns in the area. "Residents are encouraged to leave the bear alone, do not approach or engage. If there is an emergency situation please call 911 or NJ Dept of Environmental Protection at 1-877-927-6337."

Last Wednesday and Thursday, Winslow Township Police shared photos on Facebook of a similar sized bear seen around several local streets.

(West Deptford Police Department Facebook page)
A black bear seen around June 10 and 11 in West Deptford (West Deptford Police Department Facebook page)

Police noted black bears by nature tend to be wary of people, while sharing tips from the state Department of Environmental Protection — such as avoiding direct eye contact and never run from a bear. Instead, people who encounter a bear should slowly back away.

Closer to the Shore, a black bear appeared to be strolling in a McDonald's parking lot in Ocean County earlier this month. Video of the animal in Manahawkin was shared online June 4.

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