It’s tragic that a black bear had to be put down in Warren last week after it became trapped in a car in pursuit of food. The game warden who responded had no choice because this bear had become so habituated to humans and seeking food from them that it lost its natural fear.

It’s also lucky that no one was hurt and that the bear didn’t enter a home or fall asleep in the back seat of someone’s car. And it’s distressing that the family whose car was destroyed by the bear had to witness its death.

We are living in bear country and we all share the responsibility for doing everything we can to make sure that we’re not attracting or feeding bears in our own yards.

And if/when we see bears, we need to tell our neighbors ASAP so they can take precautions as well. When a bear encroaches several times in a neighborhood or on a dirt road, it’s time let the game warden know. They’ll try to help and counsel folks on what they can do to avoid attracting bears. 

The message is clear and it’s mostly about not providing food for hungry bears in the spring and early summer, which habituates them to seeing our houses, yards and cars as potential places for meals.

Beyond food, bird feeders have to come down in April and remain down until bears are fully denned up in early winter.

Beehives and chickens and gardens should be behind electric fences.

Car windows should be shut and car doors locked. Pet food should not be on decks and porches.

Garbage and compost are difficult now that many people don’t compost in their own yards anymore due to fears of attracting bears with the compost. Garbage needs to be secured as does compost and probably not in bins next to an open kitchen door.

And sadly enough, first-floor windows should be shut and latched – a bummer during summer in Vermont when sleeping with every window in the house open is such a treat. First-floor doors should be latched and locked.

What happened in Warren should serve as a learning curve for all of us so that no one gets hurts and no more bears need to die because of our mistakes.