The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says warm spring weather and melting snows are causing bears to come out of their winter dens early in search of a meal. The department recommends taking down bird feeders now to avoid attracting them.
Bears are very fond of suet and bird seed, especially black oil sunflower seed. Bringing feeders in at night doesn’t work, because bears will still feed on seed that is spilled on the ground.
Bird feeders are just one of the things that can attract hungry bears. Other sources of food that bears find appealing are pet food, barbecue grills, garbage, household trash containers, open dumpsters and campsites with accessible food and food wastes.
Purposely feeding a bear is not just bad for the bear, it’s also illegal.
Vermont law also states that residents must take reasonable measures to protect their property from bears before lethal force can be taken. Some of these measures include:
- Keep chickens and honeybees secure within an electric fence or other bear-proof enclosure.
- Never feed bears, deliberately or accidentally.
- Feed your pets indoors.
- Store trash in a secure place. Trash cans alone are not enough!