Updated: Friday, 18 Jun 2010, 8:25 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 18 Jun 2010, 8:25 PM EDT
BUFFALO, N.Y. (RELEASE) - As the black bear breeding season approaches its peak, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reminds Western New Yorkers to remain vigilant and take precautions to reduce negative encounters with black bears.
“Normally secretive in their movements, black bear encounters are becoming increasingly more frequent in areas outside historic bear ranges,” said DEC Big Game Biologist Tim Spierto. “This dispersal of young bears occurs every year as the breeding season approaches. The dispersing bears are known as ‘urban travelers’ because their movements often draw them into more populated areas in search of food.”
Black bears have been recently sighted in Boston, Alden, Wales, West Seneca, Springville, Eden and Elma. These recent instances of black bears moving through urban areas have involved mostly sub-adult male bears, who are on their own for the first time and trying to establish a new home range. Due to a lack of natural foods this time of year, bears look to humans to obtain an easy meal from bird feeders, garbage cans, dumpsters, barbecue grills, tents, vehicles, out-buildings or houses. When bears learn to obtain food from human sources, their natural foraging habits change and their behavior becomes unpredictable. Once a bear becomes a problem, DEC is often asked to relocate the bear. However, bear relocations are rarely effective at solving the problem. Relocated bears often return to their original capture site or simply continue their bad habits at a new location. If the circumstances that led to the original problem are not corrected, other bears will quickly be attracted to the site and the problems will persist. Food-conditioned bears will often become bold and assertive in their quest, potentially leading to property damage or dangerous situations for humans. Unfortunately, this often results in DEC having to euthanize the bear, echoing the adage, "a fed bear is a dead bear."
Spierto recommends that residents observe bears from a distance, never approach them and never intentionally feed them.
Important tips to minimize or avoid a negative encounter with a black bear include:
+Never feed bears.
+If you believe that bears are being fed, intentionally or unintentionally, immediately report it to DEC.
+Stop feeding birds as soon as the snow melts. Birds do not need supplemental food in the summer, when natural foods are most abundant. Clean up all seed fragments and shells left over from winter feeding, as the smell will attract bears.
+Dispose of garbage as frequently as possible. Store it in clean, secure containers (toplatched, tied or chained). Sprinkle ammonia inside the garbage bag before closing. Tie off garbage bags before placing them in containers.
+Keep garbage in cans inside buildings whenever possible.
+If garbage is picked up at the curb, put the garbage out just before the scheduled pickup or place it in a roadside bear-resistant container. Do not put garbage out the night before curbside pick-up. Clean garbage cans frequently with ammonia.
+Do not add meat scraps, bones or melon rinds to your compost pile.
+Do not burn garbage, especially meat scraps and grease.
+Clean barbecue grills before night fall and, after they cool down, store them inside;
+Feed pets indoors and store pet food indoors. If pets must be fed outdoors, take in all uneaten food and dishes before dark.
Approximately 1,800-2,500 bears live in the New York’s southern bear range, which includes the Catskills and parts of central and western New York. Bear populations, particularly in the southern bear range, have been increasing in number and expanding in distribution over the past decade.
Additional information about bears in New York State can be found on DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6960.html . For more information or to report a black
bear sighting, please call DEC’s wildlife office at (716) 372-0645.