Bear-proof dumpsters, electric fences, birdfeeder removal advised

Vermont in new era of aggressive bear behavior

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department has begun to receive reports of bears coming out of their dens as the weather warms. 

Bear incidents have been on the rise over the past several years.  2022 saw high numbers of bear homes break-ins, and two bear attacks.  Officials believe this trend is a result of Vermont’s healthy black bear population learning to associate people and food over multiple generations.

“Preventing bears from having access to human-related foods is key to successful coexistence with these long-lived and intelligent animals,” said Jaclyn Comeau, Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s bear biologist.  

The department asks Vermonters to take the following proactive steps for coexisting with bears: 

  • Take down birdfeeders between late March and December
  • Store garbage in bear-proof containers or structures—trash cans alone are not enough  
  • Follow the steps on our web page for composting in bear country 
  • Use electric fences to keep chickens and honeybees safe 
  • Request a bear-proof dumpster from your waste hauler 
  • Feed your pets indoors 
  • Never feed bears, deliberately or accidentally 

“Now is the time for Vermonters to take down our birdfeeders, make sure our garbage is secure, and protect our backyard chickens and bees with an electric fence,” said Comeau.  “This will help teach bears that our yards and neighborhoods are not good places to search for food—but it will only work if everyone does their part.”

Vermont Fish and Wildlife also asks Vermonters to submit reports of bears engaging in potentially dangerous behavior like targeting birdfeeders and garbage, feeding on crops or livestock, or investigating campgrounds.  Reports can be submitted on the department’s Living with Black Bears web page.  The data help biologists keep track of bear incidents and provide early interventions to head off conflicts. 

“At the end of the day, purposely feeding a bear is not just bad for the bear,” said Comeau.  “It is also dangerous for you, it causes problems for your neighbors, and it is illegal.  If bears are finding food on your property, it is your responsibility to remove that attractant and report a problem before the situation escalates.”  

Categories: Outdoors

18 replies »

  1. The bear population is growing in leaps and bounds. How about spring bear hunts ??

  2. LOL! Had one on my property last year. Why? Because of the stupid state laws regarding composting I just dump my compost in the backyard and then the bears sniff it out. This is happening all over the state.

  3. Long overdue for a spring Bear hunt period! Don’t you think 🤔!!
    Extended the season to the last Day of the regular Rifle Deer season period!! The last Sunday of November!!
    Black Bear population needs to be reduced period!! ASAP!!!
    Wake up white tail Deer hunters they are eating your Deer period folks !Wake up!
    20 to 30% of your new born each year and some adult Deer too period!! In all 50 states and that is a fact Jack !! LOOK IT UP FOLKS!!
    Get-R-Done Vermont Fish and wildlife Get-R-Done period!
    The Vermonter from the Right side with Common sense period!!

  4. Forced composting is the direct cause of this. The state is forcing us to feed our table scraps to the bears and then blames us! I have bears on my deck mid-day since forced composting.

    • We elected people to take care of us that are incapable of the obligation. Some of us have seen the problem and realize it is unfixable, time to say goodbye. A lot of places out there where freedom from warped minded bureaucrats still exist.

  5. Backyard composting is a great idea. Having it mandated is typical shortsightedness and sloppy legislation from Montpelier demoprogs…just as it is with our container deposit law. A beer can has a mandatory 5 cent deposit yet if you bring it back for redemption in the back seat of your sedan, you are violating Vermont’s open container law.

    • You hit that nail right on the head. That also accounts for a lot of the trash along the roads. Why have the legislators not realizes this? Dumb, dumb, dumb/

  6. If you encroach and build in wildlife habitat, expect to encounter wildlife. What is driving bears out of the woods into neighborhoods? Easy food sources they can smell quite a distance away perhaps? Development in their territory that was full of nut trees and berry bushes mowed down in the name of progress and climate change! Black Bear Lives Matter! Never saw a bear in my yard for decades until developers drove them out of their territory. Never saw coyotes until two walked through my driveway a few months ago. Being that many residents no longer hunt for food or sport (rather play video games and virtue signal without any virtue,) it is not a surprise that nature is taking back Vermont their way…the people certainly don’t care about it as much.

  7. Bear hounding and professionally managed seasons are proven, effective tools to instill fear of homesites and livestock. Alternatively, you get exactly what Connecticut is experiencing now. Responsibility for the needless destruction of these magnificent, forest, sentinels falls at the feet of those that profess to protect them. Support our bear biologists!

  8. As much as composting is contributing to a “bear problem” at least as much of a problem is the burgeoning bear population growth. I could not find any new data that VT. F&W may have, but was able to find this 2007 F&W study. https://vtfishandwildlife.com/sites/fishandwildlife/files/documents/Learn%20More/Library/REPORTS%20AND%20DOCUMENTS/HUNTING/BIG%20GAME%20MANAGEMENT%20PLAN%20-%202010/6.BLACK%20BEAR.pdf
    I feel pretty safe in saying that the population has done nothing but grow since 2007.

    • Spot on!!
      The black Bear population needs to be Reduced period! Killing 20 to 30% new born deer each year and some adult deer too !! Extend the season to the end of the regular Rifle season the last Sunday in November and a spring Bear hunt would help reduce the numbers period!!
      A trapping season on Bears would be a Common sense approach period Vermont Fish and Wildlife Get-R-Done folks Get-R-Done!!
      The Vermonter from the Right side with Common sense!!

      • The solution is to completely replace everyone in the Vermont Fish and Game department with knowledgeable outdoor people instead of liberals. If you can find non liberals in Vermont, probably have to import.

    • Perhaps bears are deemed “indigenous” and in the spirit of inclusion and equity, they have representation of the BIPOC lobbying arm-and-mind twisting of the State.

      • …remember that in Vermont we are specifically dealing only with Black bears, and that the “B” needs to be capitalized…so they get to check two boxes…Black AND indigenous, they are BIBOC (Black, Indigenous bears of Color).

  9. Problem is not the bears,problem is citizens and lawmakers who have a complete lack of common sense. Common sense should be a required subject to teach in all schools in Vermont from an early age along with realistic education on the local wildlife,human interaction, and risks that result from incorrect beliefs, about the states black bear population,not to mention moose.