With summer in full swing and outdoor activities, like camping and picnicking, at the peak of their popularity, it’s more important than ever to take measures to avoid conflict with wildlife, and black bears in particular. To help reinforce this, the Department of Environmental Conservation recently issued tips on avoiding conflict, as well as a request for help with reporting incidents.
Although black bears have a natural fear of humans, they will quickly drop that fear if it gets them easy access to food. Bird feeders, garbage cans, pet food dishes, and messy grills are just a few of the items you may have on your property that are appealing to black bears. When camping, toiletries, garbage, coolers, and other food storage containers attract black bears. If black bears find a food source, it is highly likely they will continue returning in search of more food, and may become increasingly bold.
The following are tips from the DEC that you should abide by this summer to minimize the likelihood of conflict with black bears:
- At Home
- Remove bird feeders between April 1 and November 30
- Keep garbage cans inside a sturdy building or secure the lids if they must be outside
- Clean your grill after every use
- Don’t leave food (for humans or pets) outside
- When Camping
- Keep your campsite as clean as possible
- Don’t leave coolers out at any time
- Never keep food or scented items in your tent
- Treat all toiletries as food items
- Use bear resistant food canisters
- Cook away from your campsite and clean all cooking equipment
Perhaps the most important tip whether you’re at home or enjoying the outdoors is never feed bears intentionally. Not only is this behavior illegal, but it creates conflicts between humans and bears.
Nuisance bears have already been reported this season in several locations throughout New York State, so it’s more important than ever that you take measures to minimize your risk. If you are having an issue with nuisance bears, or if you think someone in your vicinity may be feeding bears, report it immediately to the DEC at 518-897-1326. Quick reporting can lead to a faster resolution of the issue, and can also reduce safety hazards.