Saying that the agency is responding to the growing number of conflicts between bears and people across New York State, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced a new state regulation that prohibits the feeding of black bears.
Black bear numbers have increased significantly and bears have expanded their range in recent years according to wildlife experts at the DEC. One result, they say, has been an increase in the number of interactions between bears and people, often resulting from the intentional or incidental feeding of bears. There are now approximately 4,000 – 5,000 bears in New York’s northern bear range, primarily in the Adirondacks; the state record bear weighed over 700 pounds.
The Inlet and Old Forge corridor has traditionally had problems with bears. In late-August 2009 a forest ranger shot and killed a bear that was harassing campers at the Eight Lake State Campground near Inlet. In mid-September 2010 a bear broke into a home in Inlet and had to be euthanized by DEC Forest Rangers. Bears fed by humans (intentionally or incidentally) grow to not fear people. Eight problem bears were killed in the Adirondacks 2009.
Previously, DEC prohibited the intentional feeding of bears in proximity to certain locations. DEC’s new regulation prohibits both incidental and intentional feeding of bears statewide in an effort to reduce bear habituation to human-supplied foods and future human-bear conflicts.
The regulation bans intentional feeding of black bears, and, after previous written notice from DEC, also prohibits incidental or indirect feeding of black bears through food attractants such as garbage, refuse or bird seed. The regulation grants DEC the authority to require removal of these and other food attractants when bears become problematic.
DEC discourages feeding birds in the Spring when bears emerge from their dens and natural foods for bears are not abundant and natural food for birds are becoming more available.
The Notice of Adoption of the new regulation prohibiting black bear feeding is available online [pdf].
More information about black bears can be found on the DEC website or by viewing DEC’s video “Living with New York Black Bears” which is available in public and school libraries throughout the state.