IF YOU’VE BEEN WATCHING THE LOCAL news recently, you’ve probably heard about several bears who have gotten a little too close for comfort. In one instance, a woman was knocked down as she ran away from a bear on her porch (notice the ran away part). In another case, the bear was again on a porch and either bit or swatted a small dog just after a 3-year-old boy had been out on the porch with him and had gone inside. The mother watched from her porch door as her little dog struggled before the bear finally turned and ran off into the woods. In both cases, it was presumed there were a number of bears who had been fed by a resident for nearly five years who had moved away.
Since they lost their source of a handout, they were now going door-to-door and the presumed culprit has since been killed. Here are some tips from the NH Fish and Game Dept. and although it seems like it may be late in the season to worry about hungry bears, it doesn’t hurt to go over a few safety measures since there have been numerous bear sightings in town.
Tips on Avoiding Unbearable Conflicts
Although black bears are generally shy and usually avoid humans, they are opportunistic and will search for human food supplies when natural foods are not available. Black bears are one of New Hampshire’s most magnificent big mammals. Maintaining a sustainable bear population in New Hampshire depends on minimizing human-bear conflicts. It is illegal to intentionally feed bears in New Hampshire. Intentional feeding can create problems within residential areas and can result in fines. It also may threaten the life of the bear, if it becomes a nuisance animal as a result of this feeding. The majority of bear/human conflicts can be avoided. Here are some tips on preventing bear problems.
- Residential Prevention
• Take down, clean and put away bird feeders by April 1. Store the bird feeder until late fall. (Birds will do just fine with the natural foods available.) Bear damage to bird feeders is a common and growing spring complaint.
• Clean up spilled seed below feeders.
• Keep garbage in airtight containers inside your garage or storage area. Double bagging and the use of ammonia will reduce odors that attract bears.
• Garbage for pickup should be put outside the morning of collection and not the night before.
• Do not place meat or sweet food scraps in your compost pile.
• Do not leave pet food or dishes outdoors at night.
• Clean up and/or store outdoor grills after use.
• Use a bear-proof dumpster.
• Never intentionally feed bears to attract them to your yard for viewing. Since 2006, it is also illegal to intentionally feed bears.
- Camping Prevention
• Maintain a clean campsite.
• Put food scraps and fat drippings in closed containers, not in the campfire.
• Do not cook or eat in your tent.
• Keep food and cooking gear separate from your sleeping area.
• Keep food in a closed-up vehicle or hang food at least 10 feet off the ground and five feet out on a limb that will not support a bear.
A Fed Bear Is a Dead Bear!
When black bears are fed, they quickly learn unbearlike behaviors. Sadly, this may lead to serious, often deadly, results for the bear. You can prevent this by following the simple guidelines above.
Don’t Feed the Habit
As snow disappears in the early spring hungry bears leave their winter dens. Early spring offers the promise of abundant bear foods, but yields no such benefit until grasses grow, bulbs sprout and flowers bloom. Hungry bears lack the option to wait for spring growth. Although bears are generally shy and usually avoid humans, their need for food and their fondness for sunflower seeds often draw them to New Hampshire bird feeders.
If You Should Encounter a Black Bear
Normal trail noise should alert bears to your presence and prompt them to move without being noticed. However, if you see a bear, keep your distance. Make it aware of your presence by clapping, talking or making other sounds.
If a bear does not immediately leave after seeing you, the presence or aroma of food may be encouraging it to stay. Remove any sight or smell of foods. Place food items inside a vehicle or building. Occupy a vehicle or building until the bear wanders away.
Black bears will sometimes “bluff charge” when cornered, threatened or attempting to steal food. Stand your ground and slowly back away.
Enjoy watching black bears and other wildlife from a distance. Respect them and their right to live in wild New Hampshire.
Black bears do not typically exhibit aggressive behavior, even when confronted. Their first response is to flee and they rarely attack or defend themselves against humans.