Beware June jump in bear conflict, Fish & Wildlife warns

More bears are invading homes because more people are making food available, the State of Vermont says

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is increasing outreach efforts to encourage Vermont residents and visitors to get ahead of an anticipated jump in bear conflicts this June.

“Last year, we saw reported bear incidents spike from 206 in May to 473 in June,” said the department’s Black Bear Project Lead Biologist Jaclyn Comeau.  “We want to head off that spike this year, and we need the public’s help to do it.”

The department has seen increasing bear conflicts between May and June over the past several years.  However, 2022 showed a more pronounced spike than the three-year average of 182 reports in May and 370 reports in June.  This year the department had already received 136 reports as of May 27.  That number does not include incidents reported directly to game wardens and will likely grow as warden reports are processed over the next two weeks.

To increase awareness about the steps Vermonters can take to prevent bear conflicts, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is expanding its outreach effort this year.

“This month, Fish and Wildlife will be using every channel we have to reach everyone who lives in or visits Vermont with the message that bear coexistence is a shared responsibility,” said Comeau.  “For the first time, we are teaming up with the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation and the Department of Environmental Conservation to put up ‘Keep Bears Wild’ signs at state parks and transfer stations.  Anywhere there is a risk of bears learning to look for food near people, we want people to be able to see how to reduce that risk.”

In Vermont, the leading cause of bear conflicts is unsecured garbage, including household trash collection bins and dumpsters at businesses and campgrounds.  Keeping garbage bins inside until a few hours before trash collection can significantly reduce the risk of bear conflicts in residential neighborhoods.  Insisting that garbage collectors provide businesses and public facilities with bear-proof dumpsters can reduce the risk of conflicts in other locations.

 When preventative steps are not in place and bears learn that unsecured garbage is an easy food source, they can quickly become bold, and sometimes aggressive.

“If a bear develops aggressive behaviors like breaking into buildings in search of food, the department may have to kill that bear to protect human safety—nobody wants that outcome,” said Comeau.  “Our goal is for everyone to know the steps to prevent bear conflicts from happening in the first place.  Proactive coexistences is the best thing for bears and for people, and it will only work if everyone who lives in or visits Vermont treats it as a shared responsibility.”

A full list of steps for coexisting with bears is available on the department’s website.

Vermonters who notice bears seeking food in their yards or in public places like campgrounds should report the incident.

Categories: Outdoors

7 replies »

  1. I hope all the anti-hunters are experiencing some of this problem. Since they don’t want hunting or the running of bears with dogs, maybe the uptick in the population of bears and the problems that come with it, might open their eyes to see hunters are a form of control!

  2. If memory serves, when the Vermont Legislation came out with a long ridiculous list of garbage / food scraps that could no longer be thrown in the garbage. These were listed as things to be added to compost bins, which sit outside. Despite common sense from hunters, and farmers, in Vermont who told Montpeculiar this would attract wild animals to residential areas, they wouldn’t listen. Looks like those farmers and hunters knew what they were talking about. A bear can snell 1/2 to 3/4 miles away. The blame falls on VT Legislation for once again not listening to common sense. Go ahead Vermonters; vote these fools back in office when their term is over !

  3. Maybe time to consider a spring season to help control burgeoning numbers of bears ?

    • They really wouldn’t be that good to eat in the spring as they have used all their fat reserves to make it through the spring Plus the Sows would most likely still have last years or this years cubs. Last years cub probably be OK without mom but not this years

      • I believe that there are 8, or 9 states that offer spring bear seasons already, and according to the way I read it, Maine will (is) having a spring season again this year for hunting bear from the 3rd Monday in May to the 4th Saturday in June. By this time they have been out of hibernation for a couple of months, and the meat from what I’ve been told is quite good ! As far as shooting sows, weather with or without cubs, it happens. I don’t know of anybody that does that on purpose. Breeding season for black bears begins in May, and lasts until early July, with mating mainly occurring during June. In other words, what I am suggesting is the same as other big game seasons in that regard. Deer are in rut during the November rifle season, and moose season falls during their October mating season, and even though I have a hard time rationalizing a bird as “big game” spring turkey season also takes place during mating season.

  4. Black Bears are killing many and I say many of your newborn whitetail deer!
    Temporary Spring Bear hunt would help!
    Extend the Season to the last day of the November Regular deer season!!
    A Possible Late-Season Muzzleloader hunt for Black Bears!!
    A possible Two Bear Tag system! Pre-season!!
    The Black Bear population numbers has Exploded in the northeast and other parts of the country!!

  5. After 30+ years in a wild area that included bears, I experienced bears for the first time last year. This change just happened to coincide with the new mandatory composting law. All of a sudden a slew of blindly obedient citizens began to bring their garbage/food scraps to our local “transfer station” and pay for the privilege! Problem was, the garbage stayed in a small rollaway for three days until the hauler came to pick it up. By then, it was overturned and empty, meanwhile momma bear and last year’s cub took turns coming to my place looking for leftovers…only to find none, but they came everyday nonetheless. I don’t put garbage in my trash, don’t leave my trash outside, don’t have an aromatic greasy gas grill, but they came poking around anyway. Rubber shotgun slugs convinced them otherwise (per advice of our local game warden), so they just kept harassing the neighbors, but not me. Here is some tried, true advice: keep chickens, give them your veggie scraps, keep a dog, give them your meat scraps, compost the other less appetizing scraps, freeze your bones and save them for your woodstove, than add to your garden. I’ve never had trouble with bears until the boneheads in Montpelier decided to “fix our problems”.