A new state law goes into effect on July 1 intended to help
reduce the problems that occur when bears are attracted to foods
provided by people.
The new Vermont law prohibits feeding bears. It also
requires that, under most circumstances, anyone taking a nuisance
bear must first attempt reasonable non-lethal measures to protect
their own property. And, it repeals a requirement that the
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department reimburse a claimant who is
not a farmer for damage by bears to livestock or bees. Farmers
will still be reimbursed as long as his or her land is not posted
An existing law also prohibits a person from killing a bear that
has been attracted to any artificial bait or food such as bird
"We are receiving reports from all across the state of bears
seeking food at bird feeders, bee hives, chicken coops and other
sources," said State Wildlife Biologist Forrest Hammond.
"People can help by removing any food sources that may tempt the
bears. We also recommend using electrical fencing to protect
bee hives and chickens from hungry bears and using noise-making
devices to scare off bears that come near houses."
"These animals are smart and are easily attracted to
birdfeeders. Bears can gradually lose their fear of people and
begin going from house to house looking for more goodies," added
Hammond. "It doesn't take long in these situations before a bear
gets so comfortable around people that it causes property damage or
begins to be seen as a potential threat to people in surprise
When the department has to choose between the safety of people
and the safety of bears, bears will always lose."
"Don't leave pet food outside, wash down your barbecues after
using them, and secure your garbage containers," he added.
Hammond says that although rare, there have been incidents in
which people were injured by bears that lost their fear of people
while finding food near homes.
"We care about these bears as much
as anyone," he said. "Having to destroy one that has become a
threat to human safety is heart rending, and yet we know that
moving them to another location doesn't change their
behavior. They continue to seek food near people because they
have learned that it works. Vermont has a healthy, wild
population of black bears. People can help keep bears and
other wildlife from becoming a problem by making sure there are no
food sources that will tempt bears."