Rob Calvert: (603) 223-6832
Andrew Timmins: (603) 788-3164
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
March 28, 2005

Don't Let your Bird Feeder Become a Bear Feeder!

CONCORD, N.H. -- Don't let your bird feeder turn into a bear feeder, warns New Hampshire Fish and Game Wildlife Damage Specialist Rob Calvert. As soon as the snow goes, bears leave their dens and begin feeding heavily on any available food to replenish fat reserves depleted during the long denning period. Homeowners should take action now to reduce the chances of a bear visiting their home this spring.

"We can be assured that bears will be hungry as they emerge from their dens this spring, because New Hampshire has experienced very poor food production during the past two years," Calvert said. The mast failure during 2003 and 2004 may cause bears to be in poorer condition this spring than normal. Additionally, the leftover beechnuts and acorns on the forest floor that bears typically rely on for their early spring foods, before vegetation greens up, will be scarce.

Although productivity and survival of bears may have been reduced during the past two years, the statewide population is considered relatively stable -- thanks to careful management by Fish and Game -- and currently approximates 5,000 bears, according to Fish and Game Bear Project Leader Andrew Timmins.

You can avoid conflicts with our wild New Hampshire neighbors - especially bears -- by taking a few simple precautions:

  • Stop all bird feeding by April 1, or as soon as snow melts.
  • Clean up any spilled birdseed 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.
  • Avoid putting meat or other food scraps in your compost pile.* Don't leave pet food dishes outside overnight.
  • Properly clean and store outdoor grills after each use.
  • Finally, never intentionally feed bears!

These steps will help to ensure that your backyard does not become attractive to bears and other wildlife, which is important for two reasons: it prevents property damage by bears and keeps bears from becoming nuisance animals. By minimizing bear/human conflicts, we can coexist with these magnificent animals even as New Hampshire becomes more developed. There is some truth to the adage that "a fed bear is a dead bear." Once habituated to human food sources in your backyard, some destructive "nuisance" bears may need to be destroyed.

For more information on preventing conflicts with black bears, click here.

People with questions about bear-related problems can get advice by calling a toll-free number coordinated jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services and the N.H. Fish and Game Department: 1-888-749-2327 (1-888-SHY-BEAR).

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