Winter is winding down and spring is just around the corner. We are all gearing up for spring with gardens, barbecues, and lawn mowing in our future. One thing we might forget: to take down our bird feeders. Why? Bears.
As spring approaches and the weather warms bears become increasingly active in both New Hampshire and Vermont. March 31st is the traditional deadline to take down the feeders. In an article posted on the New Hampshire Fish and Game Website Andrew Timmins, Bear Project Leader for NH Fish and Game says, “During recent years, den emergence by bears appears to be a couple of weeks earlier as compared with historical trends, which is a direct result of milder winters and decreased snow pack. The strong spring sunshine, longer days, warmer temperatures, and receding snow level stimulate many wildlife species, including hungry bears, to start searching for available food.”
Taking down feeders before bears get to them is the responsible thing to do. When bears venture into yards and are rewarded with food they are learning bad behavior that can create problems for the bear down the road. A single food reward near a residence can cause bears to return to houses searching for more food. Making sure that areas near residences have no food for bears is the best way to keep them and us safe. This includes both taking down bird feeders, making sure your garbage is securely stored, taking in pet food, and keeping chickens and bee hives fenced with electric fencing.
Bird feeders left out by homeowners are the cause of 25% of human-bear conflicts according to NH Fish and Game. In addition to bird feeders, unprotected chickens cause 23% of conflicts, and unsecured garbage cans and dumpsters cause 38%.
According to NH Fish and Game here are the precautions you can take to make sure your home does not attract bears:
- Stop all bird feeding by April 1 (or the onset of spring like conditions)
- Clean up all spilled birdseed and dispose of it
- Secure all garbage in airtight containers inside a structure and don’t set it out for pick up the night before. Dumpsters can be secured with metal locking tops and doors.
- Avoid putting meat scraps in your compost pile
- Don’t leave pet dishes out over night
- Clear and store your grill after use
- Never, ever intentionally feed bears!