Tips to avoid Black Bears

NPS Black Bear.jpg

While it felt like we were holed up all winter long, for Black Bears in the Catskills and Hudson Valley, the brutal winter has led to a busy spring season.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued several tips for homeowners to avoid problems with bears – who are coming out of hibernation to replenish their body fat.

According to the DEC, "nearly all negative bear encounters in New York are the result of hungry bears being attracted to human food sources." Bird feeders, barbeque grills, garbage cans and vehicles can all be sources of food for hungry Black Bears looking to replenish nutrients and body fat after a long winter. And once a bear learns where to get food, they will be back for more.

To reduce the chance of negative black bear encounters around your home, DEC recommends these precautions:

  • Never feed bears! It is illegal, dangerous and detrimental to bears.

  • If you believe bears are being fed in your area, or suspect a nuisance bear situation, report it to DEC immediately.

  • Take down bird feeders after April 1. Birds do not need supplemental food in the spring and summer, when natural foods are most abundant (even if you believe your birdfeeder to be inaccessible to bears, the birds will drop seed on the ground, which attracts bears to your yard).

  • Clean off barbeque grills before night fall (don't forget the grease trap), and if possible, store grills inside when not in use.

  • Store garbage in a secure building or location, secure can lids with ropes/bungees/chains, never over-fill cans, and dispose of garbage as frequently as possible.

  • If you live in an area where bears may occur, put garbage containers out by the curb just before the scheduled pick-up - never the night before.

  • If you live in a densely populated bear area, consider using a certified bear-resistant garbage container.

  • Clean garbage cans frequently with ammonia products.

  • Do not burn garbage: it is illegal and can attract bears.

  • Do not add meat scraps, bones or melon rinds to your compost pile.

  • Feed pets indoors and store pet food indoors. If pets must be fed outside, immediately remove all uneaten food and dishes.

For more information about bears in your area or to report a problem with black bears, contact the nearest regional DEC office.

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