On April 7, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reminded New Yorkers to remove or secure outdoor food sources that may attract black bears.
New Yorkers who feed birds in areas with bears (which includes most of upstate New York), should begin emptying and cleaning up spilt seed from feeders, and let nature feed the birds from spring through fall. The public is also advised to secure garbage cans in a sturdy building, clean or remove all residual grease and food from grills, and store pet and livestock food indoors. New Yorkers should also consider installing electric fences around chicken coops or apiaries to protect flocks and hives.
Black bears emerging from their winter dens have depleted fat reserves and will search extensively for easily obtainable, calorie-dense foods. Bears will readily utilize human-created food sources and repeat access can make bears bolder, leading to an increase in human-bear conflicts around homes and residential areas, especially when natural food sources are scarce.
Feeding bears intentionally is illegal. Unintentional feeding can create problems for the surrounding community, or even the bear if it becomes a threat to people or property.
By removing and/or securing food sources that might attract bears, the public is helping keep bears away from people, homes and neighborhoods, which helps keep bears healthy, wild, and safe. The public is also advised to remove any unnatural food attractants and encourage neighbors to do the same. Recently, a bear in Chemung County proved that bears leave the area if there is no food available.
For more information on how to live responsibly with black bears, please visit DEC‘s webpage and Bearwise.org (leaves DEC website).
An interview with DEC Wildlife Biologist Jeremy Hurst discussing ways to avoid human-bear conflicts can be found at DEC‘s website.
Photo at top: Bear at a feeder in Marathon, Ontario. Photo Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology.