Spring has sprung early in Waterville Valley. The forsythia at my house are starting to bloom, leaves are popping open on the trees, and there are spots of green grass around the valley. Another sign of early spring…bears have emerged from their dens and are in search of food to fill their hungry bellies.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department urges homeowners to remove their bird feeders immediately.
“It has been an odd year for bears,” says Andrew Timmins, NH Fish and Game Bear Project Leader. “Bears remained very active during December and early January. In late January, multiple calls came in reporting bears wandering around homes feeding on dropped wild apples and bird seed. Also, we experienced a phenomenal beechnut crop last fall. Bears fed heavily in beech groves into December and likely will again this spring. These nuts will provide bears an important food source this spring for a month or two.”
Even if there are leftover nuts in the woods, bears will take advantage of bird seed and other attractants found around homes. Black oil sunflower seeds are simply too high a quality of food (high in fat and protein) for bears to ignore. Furthermore, if bears have previously found sunflower seeds at your home, they will be back looking for more. The best way to prevent attracting bears is to take your bird feeders down and keep them down until December 1, and secure other household food attractants – like garbage.
Garbage and bird feeders are the two temptations that cause the vast majority of bear/human conflicts in New Hampshire.
Avoid encounters with bears by taking a few simple precautions:
- Put away bird feeders NOW.
- Clean up any spilled bird seed and dispose of it in the trash.
- 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.
- Avoid putting meat or other food scraps in your compost pile.
- Don’t leave pet food dishes outside overnight.
- Clean and store outdoor grills after each use.
- Finally – NEVER INTENTIONALLY FEED BEARS!