Tips to avoid Black Bears

NPS Black Bear.jpg

A black bear cub was recently rescued in Ulster County after being found dehydrated and severely underweight.

On February 3, Environmental Conservation Officer Adam Johnson received a call from a concerned citizen stating that a bear cub was in a tree close to a local highway in Shandaken.

When ECO Johnson arrived, he saw that the bear cub was sitting in front of a trap entrance, contemplating if it wanted to follow the treats inside. DEC biologists previously set the trap to capture a bear cub in that area. The bear cub finally entered the trap, triggering the door release.

The cub was brought to a wildlife rehabilitator where it was determined to be dehydrated and malnourished, weighing approximately 10 pounds. Bear cubs this time of year should be close to 50 pounds and hibernating in dens.

Typically, at the end of January or early February, female black bears give birth to between one and six (average-two to three), half-pound blind cubs. Females with cubs usually do not emerge from their dens until April or May.

According to the DEC, this bear's survival is even more impressive considering that temperatures in the area were well below freezing for weeks prior to its capture.


"Nearly all negative bear encounters in New York are the result of hungry bears being attracted to human food sources,” according to the DEC. Bird feeders, barbecue 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.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued several tips for homeowners to avoid problems with bears.

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.


Black Bear Facts

  • Live in wooded areas, in and around mature forests

  • Adults average 2-1/2 to 3 feed tall, 6 feet long from nose to tail

  • Males average 300 pounds, females average 160 pounds

  • Black bears can run up to 30 miles per hour for short distances

  • Males can travel up to 100 square miles, females can travel up to 50 square miles

  • Solitary, except for females with cubs, and in feeding areas

  • Live 30 to 40 years