The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department recommends that Vermonters take down their bird feeders from April 1 to November 30 to avoid attracting black bears.

The bears are coming out of their winter dens and food is still scarce with the snowpack still high. Even when food is not scarce, bears are very attracted to suet and bird seed, black oil sunflower seed in particular.

Bird feeders aren't the only thing that attracts bears. They are also attracted to pet food, barbeque grills, garbage, household trash, dumpsters, campsites, compost bins and honey bees and chickens that are not secure within an electric fence or bear-proof structure.

Taking bird feeders inside at night is not enough. Seed always ends up on the ground. The same goes for placing feeders high on wires strung between trees or on a balcony or deck.

How many pictures of bears clinging to wires attempting to get to the feeder must people take and post on social media before everyone realizes that we're part of the problem rather than the solution?

How many pictures and posts must we see of bears in the garbage or compost or hives before we realize that we're placing those bears at risk?

How many bewildered posts must we see on social media wondering what can be done about bears in the garbage?

Bear baiting, either intentionally or through ignorance, is against the law in Vermont. Period.

As development encroaches further and further into bear habitat, it's our job to mitigate our impact on their habitat and feeding patterns. We have a moral responsibility to make sure we're not putting a bear at risk of being managed by lethal force.

And that means all of us, not just some of us. Take the bird feeders down, please. We all love to watch birds at our bird feeders, but to do so at the expense of the bears is wrong.

Take your feeders down. Secure your hives, flock and compost and garbage. You too.