Even if you just can’t bear it, the N.H. Fish and Game Department says residents should keep bird feeders stored until December, lest they attract hungry creatures preparing for hibernation.
In a news release from the department this week, Fish and Game’s Bear Project Leader Andy Timmins said officials have seen an uptick in bear sightings, mostly at bird feeders, since late October.
“By taking action now, you can prevent attracting a hungry bear to your home this fall,” Timmins said. “Do not wait for a bear to raid the bird feeder or feed from a dumpster and then respond. Doing so encourages foraging behavior by bears near residences.”
New Hampshire’s bears are “actively preparing for their denning period and on the move in search of high-fat, protein-rich food sources to sustain them through the winter,” according to the release. So, to help prevent human-bear conflicts this fall, the department is asking Granite Staters to hold off on putting out bird feeders until next month.
“Averting conflicts with bears requires increased responsibility and proactive behavior by the public,” Timmins said in the release. “Bears have an excellent sense of smell and good memories.”
Bird feeders cause about a quarter of all human-bear conflicts statewide, according to the release. Unsecured chickens and other poultry account for an additional 23 percent of these encounters, and unsecured garbage cans and dumpsters cause another 38 percent.
“If the public would be willing to address these three common attractants,” Timmins said, “we could quickly reduce annual bear-human conflicts by 70-80%, which would be a tremendous benefit to New Hampshire’s bear population.”
In addition to delaying bird feeding until bear activity slows, Fish and Game’s other recommendations for preventing bear encounters include: putting bird feeders away by April 1 (or the onset of spring-like weather, whichever comes first), putting all garbage in an airtight container, avoiding putting meat and other food scraps in compost piles and never deliberately feeding bears.
For additional questions on bear-related problems, call the toll-free number coordinated by Fish and Game and the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 1-888-749-2327 (1-888-SHY-BEAR).