In a development that may well mean more bear invasions of human living space, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department biologists report the second consecutive bad acorn crop.
Every year, biologists survey oak and beech stands around the state each fall to assess how plentiful acorns and beechnuts are because they are important fall foods for wildlife.
“Acorn surveys ranged from poor to fair statewide with an overall rating of poor,” said bear biologist Jaclyn Comeau. “Acorn availability was also poor in 2022. This is only the fourth time Vermont has experienced two consecutive years with poor acorn crops since surveys began in 1989.”
“Beechnut surveys were excellent on average, but there was dramatic regional variation,” said Comeau. “Surveys across the Northeast Kingdom indicated little to no beechnut production while surveys throughout the rest of northern and central Vermont were poor to excellent. But, beechnut surveys across southern Vermont were consistently excellent, pulling the statewide average up to the third highest since beechnut surveys began in 1988.”
In areas where acorns or beechnuts are not abundant many of Vermont’s wildlife species will be on the move looking for alternative food options before winter, and some bears will enter winter dens early.
“But no matter where you live, it is important for Vermonters to remain diligent about securely storing common bear attractants such as garbage and birdseed until winter conditions arrive and all bears enter their dens,” added Comeau. “We recommend waiting until December when snow is on the ground before putting out bird feeders.”
Vermont Fish and Wildlife has lots of helpful information about living with black bears on its website.