Reducing Human-Bear Conflict Guidelines

The DEC has updated their guidelines in helping people reduce human-bear conflict. In NYS it’s recommended that you remove your bird feeders by April first. In any black bear state you need to remove bird feeders in spring to prevent damage to them and avoid attracting bears. The first year that we moved upstate, we did not know this and learned our lesson. Not only did we have the raccoons come and steal a bird feeder, a mama bear and cub came for the rest. We found the bird feeders in the yard, bent in half.

If you do not want to lose your bird friends, you can plant various shrubs and plants instead. You can find sites that will let you enter your zip code and provide a list of plants, trees and shrubs that will attract different types of birds. We found another solution which is to hang the bird feeder from our window. The feeder is at least 15 feet above ground. The bears can’t get to it from the deck either. We’ve also had feeders hang from the soffit. The squirrels, raccoons and bears couldn’t get to them that way either. If you don’t have a safe place for a bird feeder, it’s best to remove it for a few months.

Avoiding Bear Conflict

What does human-bear conflict mean? This is a situation where humans make food readily available for bears. The bear comes and ends up damaging property or humans kill it out of fear. Bears have a keen sense of smell that can take them miles away just following their nose. They can smell your delicious BBQ, your leftovers in the trash, and the nectar in the hummingbird feeder. If you do not want to see a bear in your yard or your home, the DEC has a few recommendations in order to avoid human-bear conflict.

Bear Proofing at Home

Most people don’t realize that they can attract bear to their home. Some ways to prevent conflict with bears is by:

  • Removing bird feeders in spring
  • Clean grills after each use including the drip pan
  • Store garbage in the garage or locked container
  • Don’t throw away your food scraps to feed animals
  • Don’t leave pet food outside

When we first moved upstate, we left our trashcan outside at night to be picked up in the morning. The bear came in the middle of the night and took the trash can across the street. We tried bear proofing the trash can by wrapping it in bungie cords. This did not help. The bear would just take the trash can into the woods and we would miss the trash pickup. In the end, we cancelled the trash pickup and take our trash to the dump ourselves. While I miss seeing the bears pass by in the yard, we don’t miss having to walk into the woods to clean the mess.

When Camping

If you are camping or through hiking, you want to be aware of bears and other wildlife. To avoid conflicts with wildlife while camping;

  • Store your food in bear proof containers
  • Hang your food and toiletries at least 100 feet away from your campsite
  • Never leave food in your tent
  • Clean grills and campsites right away
  • Never leave food unintended

While most of us love to see black bears roam around, we do not want to see them in our homes. If you live in a bear country, always make sure that your food is stored in the fridge and storage containers. Never leave leftovers by the door and do not leave your doors and windows open. While you might not be able to smell your cat’s dry food, the bears can.

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