Sunday, April 21, 2024

DEC reminds New Yorkers to be bear wise this spring

Black bear

On April 11, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos reminded New Yorkers to remove or secure outdoor food sources that may attract black bears. Throughout the spring and early summer months, black bears have depleted fat reserves and will search extensively for easily obtainable, calorie-dense foods, which can lead to an increase in the potential for human-bear conflicts near homes and residential areas, especially before the spring green-up when natural food sources for bears are scarce.

“Across New York, black bears are emerging from their winter dens and may seek out human-created food sources,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Repeat access to these food sources can make bears bolder, so I encourage New Yorkers to practice the BearWise basics to help keep bears wild and prevent the potential for human-bear conflicts.”

Those who maintain bird feeders should begin emptying and cleaning spilled seed from feeders, and let nature feed the birds from spring through fall. Garbage and recycling cans should be secured or stored in a sturdy building. This is also a good time to clean or remove all residual grease and food from grills and smokers. Pet and livestock food should be kept indoors and those with chicken coops or apiaries should consider installing an electric fence to protect flocks and hives. Lastly, neighbors should alert neighbors to any bear activity so they can take these same precautions.

New Yorkers are advised to never feed or approach bears. Feeding bears intentionally is dangerous and illegal. Bears that become habituated to being fed can become a threat to people and property.

By taking some time to practice the BearWise basics New Yorkers are helping keep bears away from people, homes, and neighborhoods, and that helps keep bears healthy, wild, and safe by removing any unnatural food attractants and encouraging neighbors to do the same. For more information on how to live responsibly with black bears, please visit DEC’s website and

More information on reducing backyard bear conflicts is available on DEC’s YouTube page.

More information on reducing bear conflicts while camping is available on DEC’s YouTube page.

An interview with DEC Big Game Biologist, Brendan Quirion is available to download (video, 261 MB)

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Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

One Response

  1. laura bellinger says:

    Last spring I was listening to a call in radio show featuring two guests from DEC. They mentioned that people should take down their bird feeders because of the bears. That very night, I woke up to a small noise around 3 a.m. I looked out the porch window and there was a big black bear destroying the bird feeder. Later, I found the suet container across the lawn. I’ve lived in my house in Ephratah for 30 years and this was my first bear encounter!

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