Homeowners should take down their bird feeders since bears are coming out of hibernation early, Fish and Game officials urged. This means one thing - they are very hungry and might go near houses with bird feeders.
As the bird season continues until the end of March, officials cautioned bird lovers to put bird feeders aside until Dec. 1. This is due to increased bear activity seen in the past week.
"Den emergence by bears appears to be about a month earlier this year due to the very mild winter and recent stretch of abnormally spring-like conditions," said NH Fish and Game Department's Bear Protect Leader, Andrew Timmins.
This year, spring came early than expected and with longer days and warmer temperatures, wildlife animals such as bears are stirred.
Bear activity is expected to continue in the next couple of weeks and in order to prevent hungry bears attacking homes; they urge residents to act now before anyone could get hurt.
Timmins cautioned residents that bird seeds are very appetizing for bears, and once they got a taste of these seeds, they might search for more. Encouraging this behavior could result to bear attacks in the area, one thing wildlife officials are preventing.
Bird Feeders Can Kill Bears Too
Some studies show [pdf] that more than 80 percent of human-bear conflicts can be linked to bird feeders. Bears are attracted to bird feeders since the seeds in them are high in calories - more than 12,000 in a 7-pound feeder.
Since bird feeders are easy to reach, bears become accustomed to the area. As a result, they keep coming back for more. They become aggressive in their pursuit of easy food rewards.
Just like humans, bears are faced with threats especially when they roam around residential areas. Aside from falling off high bird feeders, they could get killed by hunters or residents protecting themselves from attacks.
Bear-safe Bird Feeding
Homeowners should stop bird feeding as soon as spring starts. Usually, bird feeding should stop by April 1 but since the climate this year is warmer than usual, it started way early.
Officials recommend residents to also clean up spilled birdseeds in the area because bears can smell them, which could also attract bears to search the area for food. They should also avoid putting meat or other food scraps in the garbage and should only place them outside on the morning of collection, not the night before.
Human-Bear Conflicts Decreased
Human-bear conflicts have decreased over the past years thanks to mitigation efforts by both residents and wildlife officials.
In 2015, conflicts between humans and birds were at the lowest level in two decades. Officials received a total of 394 complaints.
"While several factors caused that decline, the trend speaks well of the willingness of the New Hampshire public to do their part in preventing conflicts," said Timmins.
"When people are proactive and eliminate or secure common bear attractants, bears have no reason to be invited into backyards and residential areas," he added.
Photo: George Pankewytch | Flickr