BUFFALO, N.Y. (RELEASE) - As the black bear breeding season approaches its peak, the NewYork State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) remindsWestern New Yorkers to remain vigilant and take precautions toreduce negative encounters with black bears.
“Normally secretive in their movements, black bearencounters are becoming increasingly more frequent in areas outsidehistoric bear ranges,” said DEC Big Game Biologist TimSpierto. “This dispersal of young bears occurs every year asthe breeding season approaches. The dispersing bears are known as‘urban travelers’ because their movements often drawthem 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 ofblack bears moving through urban areas have involved mostlysub-adult male bears, who are on their own for the first time andtrying to establish a new home range. Due to a lack of naturalfoods this time of year, bears look to humans to obtain an easymeal from bird feeders, garbage cans, dumpsters, barbecue grills,tents, vehicles, out-buildings or houses. When bears learn toobtain food from human sources, their natural foraging habitschange and their behavior becomes unpredictable. Once a bearbecomes a problem, DEC is often asked to relocate the bear.However, bear relocations are rarely effective at solving theproblem. Relocated bears often return to their original capturesite or simply continue their bad habits at a new location. If thecircumstances that led to the original problem are not corrected,other bears will quickly be attracted to the site and the problemswill persist. Food-conditioned bears will often become bold andassertive in their quest, potentially leading to property damage ordangerous situations for humans. Unfortunately, this often resultsin DEC having to euthanize the bear, echoing the adage, "a fed bearis 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 ablack bear include:
+Never feed bears.
+If you believe that bears are being fed, intentionally orunintentionally, immediately report it to DEC.
+Stop feeding birds as soon as the snow melts. Birds do notneed supplemental food in the summer, when natural foods are mostabundant. Clean up all seed fragments and shells left over fromwinter feeding, as the smell will attract bears.
+Dispose of garbage as frequently as possible. Store it inclean, secure containers (toplatched, tied or chained). Sprinkleammonia inside the garbage bag before closing. Tie off garbage bagsbefore placing them in containers.
+Keep garbage in cans inside buildings whenever possible.
+If garbage is picked up at the curb, put the garbage outjust before the scheduled pickup or place it in a roadsidebear-resistant container. Do not put garbage out the night beforecurbside pick-up. Clean garbage cans frequently with ammonia.
+Do not add meat scraps, bones or melon rinds to your compostpile.
+Do not burn garbage, especially meat scraps and grease.
+Clean barbecue grills before night fall and, after they cooldown, store them inside;
+Feed pets indoors and store pet food indoors. If pets mustbe fed outdoors, take in all uneaten food and dishes beforedark.
Approximately 1,800-2,500 bears live in the New York’ssouthern bear range, which includes the Catskills and parts ofcentral and western New York. Bear populations, particularly in thesouthern bear range, have been increasing in number and expandingin distribution over the past decade.
Additional information about bears in New York State can befound on DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6960.html. For moreinformation or to report a black
bear sighting, please call DEC’s wildlife office at(716) 372-0645.
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