Bear start

It’s time for the Mad River Valley Great Amazing Bear Story Contest. The Mad River Valley Bear Initiative invites people to submit their black bear stories from 2023. Share a story and one might be eligible to win a cool prize. The Mad River Valley Bear Initiative is a working group represented by conservation organizations in Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield and Warren, Friends of the Mad River, the Stark Mountain Foundation, and Sugarbush. The goal is to collectively improve how people coexist with their calorie-seeking, black bear friends. 



With near record bear counts this year it’s no wonder there are so many bear sightings in the Mad River Valley. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department estimates 7,000-8,500 bears statewide, a five-year high with an estimated 2,000 more animals than just a few years ago.  As bears seek and compete for new territories to call their own, residents find more bears popping up all over the community.  

“It’s the perfect opportunity to embrace living in bear country by sharing collective stories, wildlife appreciations, and tips and tricks for our peaceful coexistence,” said Margo Wade, bear initiative spokesperson. 

Here is how it works. People can craft their story and submit it to the MRV Bear Initiative by Sunday, March 10, 2024. The story only needs to be long enough to capture organizers’ attention. Submit any or multiple formats of recorded media – an essay, pictures, drawings, a link to a video, a poem, a diorama, etc. Choose the format that best fits the story. Selected stories will be shared with the community as educational and inspirational opportunities for all of us to enjoy. 

Resident of the Valley? Want to win a bear resistant trash can? Report how, in a sentence or two what one would do with a bear toter and how it would foster bear harmony in the neighborhood. Two lucky winners will be randomly drawn from a list of eligible entries to receive either a 64-gallon or a 96-gallon animal proof/resistant receptacle by Toter.  

Our hope is to increasingly bear-proof our community in order to collectively improve how we coexist with our calorie-seeking black bear friends,” Wade explained.  


Children 14 and under can enter to win one of three bear-themed prizes including a plush toy wearable backpack, Warmies Huggable Black Bear, or a 4-foot black bear huggable body pillow. Three lucky winners will be randomly drawn from a list of eligible entries. 

Submit stories here: