With the arrival of spring, bears will soon be emerging from hibernation and we are anticipating reports of bear activity in West Lebanon as we have in past years. Bears may be in other neighborhoods as well. The easiest way to solve a bear-human conflict is to prevent it in the first place. Please do your part to protect the bears.
“Building good bear-human relationships is far more successful when people are preemptive, and it is easier to avoid a conflict than resolve one,” says Andrew Timmins, Bear Project Leader for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. “Bears have an extremely acute sense of smell, long memories, and high intelligence. We really need the help of residents this spring to prevent emerging bears from returning to locations where they have been previously successful in finding backyard food sources. It is harmful for bears to become conditioned to forage around homes and in residential areas because they will lose some of their natural aversion to humans. Bears are much better off in the wild relying on natural food sources.”
If you see a bear, please use caution and do not approach it to take pictures. If you encounter a bear, remain standing and maintain non-threatening eye contact. Back away slowly, speaking in a soft, confident voice. Do not run or climb trees.
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 or at the onset of extended spring-like weather conditions.
- Clean up any spilled birdseed and dispose of it in a secured trash container.
- 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, inform your dumpster company that you need a dumpster with metal locking tops and doors that are inaccessible to bears and other wildlife.
- Avoid putting meat in your compost pile.
- Do not leave pet food dishes outside overnight.
- Clean and store outdoor grills after each use.
- Finally, never feed bears!
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 regarding bear-related issues, visit New Hampshire's Fish and Game website or call this 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).