The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is urging people to take down their bird feeders to avoid attracting bears that are emerging from their winter dens and looking for food.
"It is best to remove food sources before hungry bears locate them," said Fish & Wildlife’s Col. David LeCours. "We highly recommend taking down bird feeders and not feeding birds until December 1."
“Also, don't leave pet food outside, wash down your barbecues after using them, and secure your garbage containers,” he added. “And above all, never purposely leave food out for bears. Feeding bears may seem kind, but it is almost a sure death sentence for them."
"Help keep bears wild," said LeCours. "We care about these bears as much as anyone. Having to destroy one that has become a threat to human safety is not a pleasant experience, and we know that moving them to another location doesn't change their behavior. They continue to seek food near people because they have learned that it works."
Vermont law prohibits a person from killing a bear that has been attracted to any artificial bait or food such as bird seed. The fine for doing so can be as high as $1,000.
Bears often eat seeds in the wild, so a birdfeeder chock full of high-energy seed is a concentrated source of what a bear considers natural food. And they are smart. Once bears learn to obtain food around people’s homes, they will be back for more.
To learn about black bears, go to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department's website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) and look in the Library section for the Black Bear Factsheet.