VERMONT FISH & WILDLIFE
MONTPELIER, Vt. – Bear activity in South Burlington has jumped this year, highlighting the need to prevent bear conflicts in densely populated areas around the state, according to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.
“We have had 14 bear incident reports from South Burlington so far this year, compared to just three for all of 2022,” said Black Bear Project Leader Jaclyn Comeau. “At least two yearling bears and their mother are becoming used to easy meals of birdseed and unsecured garbage in town. This is a dangerous situation for these bears and for people, especially in a densely populated community like South Burlington where many residents may not be used to coexisting safely with bears.”
As recently as the 1970s, black bears were uncommon outside remote parts of the Green Mountains and Northeast Kingdom. Today the species is found statewide except in the Champlain Islands. The population has been stable between 4,000 and 6,000 bears over most of the last decade.
Recent years have seen more bear conflicts statewide, and increasingly in densely populated communities like Rutland, Montpelier, Essex, and South Burlington. According to Fish and Wildlife, the leading cause of bear conflicts is unsecured attractants that teach bears to associate people and easy access to food.
“Black bears in Vermont are a conservation success, and our surveys show most Vermonters want a healthy bear population in our state,” said Comeau. “But that means that if you live in Vermont, you live in bear country and are responsible for taking proactive steps to prevent conflicts with bears. It also means Vermonters have to grapple with tough questions like whether the Burlington suburbs are really a good place for bears.”
Fish and Wildlife urges Vermonters to take proactive steps to prevent bears learning to look for food near people, especially in densely populated areas. Taking down birdfeeders until there is snow on the ground, securing garbage until collection day morning, protecting backyard flocks with electric fencing, and composting properly can help prevent bear conflicts from developing.
A full list of steps for coexisting with bears is available on the department’s website at: https://vtfishandwildlife.com/learn-more/living-with-wildlife/living-with-black-bears
As always, Vermonters who notice bears seeking food in their yards or in public places like campgrounds should report the incident at: https://anrweb.vt.gov/FWD/FW/WildlifeBearReport.aspx
Categories: Press Release