As winter turns to spring, Vermont officials are warning local homeowners about awakening bears.
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department says it is receiving reports of black bears emerging from their winter dens and looking for food. The officials are advising residents to be mindful of wandering bears. Officials say homeowners should take down their bird feeders and refrain from leaving pet food outside.
“We are receiving reports of bears getting into bird feeders,” said Fish and Wildlife’s Col. David LeCours. “People can help now by removing any food sources that may tempt the bears. That includes 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 also 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 food source for bears. And they are smart. Once bears learn to obtain food around people’s homes, they will be back for more, the officials warned.