POMPTON LAKES, NJ (CBSNewYork/AP) – It’s a wee bit early, but perhaps the recent warm spell has roused sleepy hungry bears and lured them from their winter dens.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports from Passaic County

Police have received at least 30 calls a day over the past month from residents reporting bear sightings. On the front page of The Record, a photo shows two black bears scurrying across Newark-Pompton Turnpike in Riverdale.

“They’re walking into the main streets, the sidewalks, front yards, backyards, climbing over fences, climbing up trees,” Pompton Lakes Det. Lt. Steve Siefreid told 1010 WINS.

“We saw a bear going through someone’s garbage,” Pompton Lakes resident Dale Murphy told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan. “We turned around quickly and went back.”

One woman said she has been seeing “a mother bear and two cubs” for about two weeks.

“At the beginning, what we would do is hit the siren on the police car and they’d run back into the woods but now it appears that they’re getting much bolder and they’re coming into the residential neighborhoods,” Det. Lt. Siefreid said.

Scott Santers of Pompton Lakes says that wildlife officials came out and said that as long as they’re not aggressive or significantly damaging things, there’s nothing they can do.

“I know they’re fuzzy, cute little creatures but they’ll make your face look like you shaved with a food processor,” Siefreid said. “A bear is a big animal it can do a lot of damage.”

Folks are surprised to see black bears this early in residential neighborhoods.

State Fish and Wildlife biologist Kelcey Burguess says the New Jersey suburbs offer bears a smorgasbord of garbage and birdfeeders.

Police say secure your trash, watch your pets, and be bear aware.

“Use common sense. Just keep the kids away, keep the animals away and we shouldn’t have any problems at all,” Det. Lt. Siefreid said. “If we could take away their source of food, they’ll go elsewhere to look, and that’s what we’re hoping – they go back into the woods.”

Burguess says the busiest time is breeding season at the end of May and June.

Some 591 bears were killed in a state-sanctioned hunt in early December, but it’s expected a burst of new cubs will replace the bears.

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