The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department says warm spring weather and melting snows will cause bears to come out of their winter dens in search of food. The department recommends taking down bird feeders by April 1 to avoid attracting bears.
“Many bears went into their winter dens in poorer than normal condition due to a shortage of acorns, beechnuts and apples last fall,” said Forrest Hammond, Vermont’s bear biologist. “Some bears will be coming out of their dens more hungry than normal due to low fat reserves.”
Bears are very fond of suet and bird seed, especially black oil sunflower seed. Bringing feeders in at night doesn’t work, because bears will still feed on seed that is spilled on the ground.
Bird feeders are just one of the things that can attract hungry bears. Other sources of food that bears find appealing are pet food, barbecue grills, garbage, household trash containers, open dumpsters and campsites with accessible food and food wastes.
Purposely feeding a bear is not just bad for the bear, it’s also illegal.
Fish & Wildlife also offers the following tips to avoid bear problems:
- Keep chickens and honeybees secure within an electric fence or other bear-proof enclosure.
- Never feed bears, deliberately or accidentally.
- Feed pets indoors.
- Store trash in a secure place. Trash cans alone are not enough.
“We are asking anyone who has a problem with a bear to report the incident in a form that we have on our website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) under Living with Wildlife,” said Hammond. “There is a section in the form where you can ask us to call you to provide advice.”