New Yorkers encouraged to reduce bears’ access to attractants such as food and garbage
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos encouraged New Yorkers to reduce the potential for conflicts with bears in communities across the state.
“We have recently begun to see a rise in reported sightings of black bears in suburban and urban areas,” Seggos said. “While seeing a bear is an exciting experience for many New Yorkers, bears that are inadvertently fed by humans exhibit unnatural behaviors and can become a nuisance. DEC encourages homeowners, property managers, and outdoor enthusiasts to follow guidance to reduce bears’ access to attractants like garbage, birdseed, and pet food to discourage nuisance bears.”
In June, black bear movement increases as the breeding season begins and yearling (1-year-old) bears disperse to find their own space. Inevitably, some of these bears, particularly yearlings, wander through places these animals would not normally inhabit, like suburban or urban neighborhoods. Bears have an acute sense of smell and may attempt to consume anything they perceive as edible, including improperly stored garbage, birdseed, livestock, pet food, and barbecue grill grease traps. Once a bear has discovered a food source, it may return or seek similar foods at neighboring properties, learning bad behavior that can damage human property and may lead to the death of the bear.
Bears that frequent developed areas are more likely to be hit by vehicles, illegally killed by people who perceive them as a threat, or euthanized for dangerous behavior. New Yorkers can live responsibly with bears by taking down bird feeders, storing garbage containers and pet/livestock feed securely indoors, cleaning grill grease traps, and asking neighbors to do the same. A bear passing through a developed area in search of suitable natural habitat may investigate human food sources, but if it cannot obtain anything to eat, it will continue on its way.
DEC said, “If a bear is seen in an unexpected location, residents should simply be aware of the bear’s presence and observe the bear without attempting to interact with it. If left alone and given the opportunity, nearly all bears that wander into urban and suburban areas will leave as quickly and quietly as they appear, without serious conflict or need for physical removal.”
The agency said to follow the tips below to live responsibly with New York black bears:
√ Do not feed bears intentionally. Feeding bears intentionally is illegal and a ticketable offense. Bears that obtain food from humans will continue to seek food from humans and become nuisance bears, which can pose a threat to humans.
√ Around dwellings, the public is encouraged to:
√ Campgrounds visitors should follow the following guidance to reduce potential bear conflicts:
√ Visitors to the backcountry are encouraged to:
√ If you encounter a bear:
√ When to report a nuisance bear:
Follow @NYSDEC on social media for details about an upcoming Facebook Live about living with bears, hosted by a DEC wildlife expert.
Bears are just some of the exciting wildlife found in natural communities across the state. This week, anyone can be a nature detective and participate in DEC’s #AdventureAtHome series by taking a closer look at the natural world right around their home. Visit DEC’s website starting Monday, June 15, for a week of discovering nature nearby, whether it be in the city, suburbs or the country.