, Derry, New Hampshire


April 18, 2013

Avoid bears in the back yard; take feeders down


Given that 2012 was a poor food year for bears, natural foods will be scarce this spring until green-up occurs. Bears will be readily attracted to bird feeders that are still up. Location in the state and the corresponding bear density has little influence on the likelihood of attracting a bear to a bird feeder.

“It does not really matter if you have two bears or ten bears for every 10 square miles in the area,” Timmins said. “Bears are experts at finding high quality food and they will find it. Bear complaints are closely associated with the density of food attractants in the area, not the number of bears.”

Black oil sunflower seeds are simply too high a quality of food (high in fat and protein) for bears to ignore. Natural bear foods during spring and summer are generally high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat.

Homeowners should take action to reduce the chances of a bear visiting their home. Avoid encounters with bears by taking a few simple precautions: stop all bird feeding by April 1; clean up any spilled birdseed and dispose of it in the trash; secure all garbage in airtight containers inside a garage or adequate storage area, and put garbage out on the morning of pickup, not the night before. If using a Dumpster, get one with a metal locking top and door.

Also, avoid putting meat or other food scraps in your compost pile. Don’t leave pet food dishes outside overnight. Clean and store outdoor grills after each use.

These steps will help to ensure that your backyard does not become attractive to bears and other wildlife, which is important because it prevents property damage by bears and because it keeps bears from becoming nuisance animals.

For more information, visit

If you have questions about bear-related problems, you can get advice by calling a toll-free number coordinated jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department: 1-888-749-2327 (1-888-SHY-BEAR).

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