Press Release

Composting with bears in mind


Press Release

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says many people are having problems with bears looking for food near their homes, and with the food scrap ban in effect the department is providing tips for people who are composting at home so they can avoid attracting hungry bears. 

“We have been receiving lots of reports of bears on decks, tearing down bird feeders, wrecking beehives, killing chickens, and getting into trash, compost and garbage containers,” said bear biologist Jaclyn Comeau.  “We are offering some guidance on how to compost at home without attracting bears.”

“First though, to deter bears, bird feeders need to be taken down until we have a foot or more of snow in December.  Then, make sure anything else that might smell like food is picked up.  And keep your trash container secured inside a sturdy building and don’t put it outside until the morning of pickup.  Beehives, chicken coops and compost bins can be protected with electric fencing.”

If you know bears are active in your neighborhood, the best way to avoid attracting them is to take food scraps to one of the drop-off stations.  You can locate them by contacting your local solid waste management district or town at, or ask your trash hauler if they pick up food scraps for composting. 

Composting at home while minimizing the chances of attracting bears can best be done with these tips:

  • Use three parts of brown material for one part of green material.  Browns can be dried leaf and yard debris, wood chips, which often can be delivered to your house free by a local tree service company, or shredded paper.  Greens include kitchen scraps, vegetables and small amounts of fruits.  Adding lots of brown material minimizes smells and speeds up composting.
  • No meat, bones or seafood leftovers.  They do not break down quickly and are strong wildlife attractants. 

The food scrap ban allows people who compost at home to dispose of meat, bones and seafood in the trash, so they can be kept in a freezer until trash day.  

  • Give your compost oxygen by frequently mixing it or turning it over if it is in a container.  This reduces odors and speeds up composting.
  • Does your compost smell?  If so, turning it, adding more brown material and adding a layer of wood shavings or sawdust to the top should solve the issue.
  • Enclose your composter with electric fencing or compost in a hard, durable container with a lid that will be challenging for a bear to open.  Some types of tumblers are bear-proof.
  • Electric fencing, with food scent added to the wires will discourage even persistent bears. 
  • If you are currently having a bear issue, delay starting your new compost pile until the bear issue resolves.  Until then, keep food scraps in the freezer or bring them to a collection site.

To learn more about properly composting food waste, go to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s website at

If you are having problems with bears, you should submit a bear incident report to Vermont Fish and Wildlife at

If a bear is causing damage, you are also urged to contact your local game warden.  You can find out who your local warden is at

Composting without attracting wildlife takes careful planning.  For information about living with bears and to report bear damage, visit Fish and Wildlife’s website

Categories: Press Release

20 replies »

  1. I don’t have a problem with bears. They’re delicious ! Part of the perceived problem is the part that F&W does not talk about for whatever reason. There are more bears in the State of Vermont than ever. Maybe it’s time for a spring season, or extending bear season through all of deer season. It is not time to stop, or further regulate bear houndsmen’s pursuit of bears !

  2. Never composted. Won’t compost now. Cuff me. Perhaps if the environment is rather suddenly this fragile, and Vermonters’ composting will alter the worldwide trajectory of “climate change”, perhaps the VT legislature ought to cease immediately from throwing Act 250 to the wind, building their beloved high-density housing everywhere, and enabling & encouraging illegal immigration?

    As far as bears go? I respect them as I respect every living creature, not to mention that they walked upon this continent long before we did. They’re carnivorous, so we can potentially be delicious to them too. That’s life.

  3. Meant to write – omnivorous obviously. Unless they’re eating us. Then they are, at that moment, carnivorous!

  4. The compost law clashed with pre-existing wildlife law prohibiting creating an attractive nuisance to bears. It’s not the first piece of sloppy legislation to come out of Montpelier and it wont be the last. Vermont has had a bottle/can deposit law on the book for over 50 years and more recently passed an open container law that makes it illegal to transport an opened alcohol container “in the manufacturer designated passenger area” of a vehicle. For those with a station wagon or minivan, there is no place in the vehicle to legally transport empties for redemption. The Chair of the House Judiciary claimed at the time that “I think we can count on police discretion to decide who is in violation”. That’s sloppy lawmaking.

  5. Is it “sloppy” or intentional so as to allow law enforcement room to explore or exploit it when someone of questionable repute is in technical violation ?

    • It’s just an opportunity for selective enforcement…and we see how selective enforcement is having a big effect on the highest levels of government currently.

  6. It’s not only bears, but raccoons, rats, and ground hogs that are attracted by home composting regardless of the “quality” of the composting. Home composting is a nuisance and should be banned.

  7. Is the State aware that people own dogs? Because if so, there are a variety of foods that people eat, but which are toxic to dogs such as onions, grapes, raisins, chocolate, etc.

    Maybe the State ought to give some thought to the possibility that owners could inadvertently poison their dogs by composting?

    I guess not. After all, much like cows, dogs fart, so there’s that……..

  8. The only thing mandatory composting has accomplished is produce large swarms of flies faster than mosquitos in standing water. Vermont is the leader of creating more nuisences and substandard living at a record pace. Congratulations non-profit, NGOs, and feckless bureaucrat grifters! Well done!

  9. If you know bears are active in your neighborhood, the best way to avoid attracting them is to take food scraps to one of the drop-off stations.

    REALLY? Let’s DRIVE the compostables TRASH to a drop off station? Unless you live in one of Vermont’s cities or more populated areas, the “drop-off stations” are few and far between. The closest one to me is 10 miles away, a 20 mile round trip. How much carbon is being put into the air so that compostables can be taken for a separate drive from your trash? As usual, those under the Golden Dome create an impractical and more expensive solution to a NON-PROBLEM! I, by the way, have been composting for over 20 years because it made sense in my situation and for my garden.

  10. Another regulation from the idiot progs and far left dems in Vermont. Oh yeah, we forgot about bears! Also those in apartments can compost by digging up the lawn, if there is any. We really need to clean out the legislature.

  11. Was I the only one that saw this coming with the passage of Mitzie Johnsons composting law?

  12. If only somebody saw this coming….oh wait! Every person who has a bit of common sense did. Unfortunately, very little of that rare commodity exists under the golden dome.

  13. Garbage belongs in the garbage where it’s been going since 1791 here before the crazies took office.

    FORCE me to compost. It’s a big “no”. And just so you know, I’d estimate the majority of Chittenden County doesn’t.

    You people in Montpelier are totalitarian morons. Yup. I said a terrible thing: “You people” LOL!

    Conversely, they ADORE being called totalitarians. And the “morons” part is merely self-evident.

  14. When irrational, feel-good laws are legislated, citizens can justify contempt and non conformance to most any other law. Exactly why I augment wood heat with tire chunks.

  15. Cause and effect of a short sighted home composting / food scrap ban legislation! Our legislators aren’t smart enough to even ask for honest, knowledgeable advice before leaping forward.
    Next up, S5 climate insanity!

  16. I’ve been composting for decades and do not put cooked food scraps in my compost,just veggie waste from my gardens,lawn clippings,weeds,some manure,flower bed scraps,old mulch,straw and never have problems with flies nor bears. If you put cooked food waste from the kitchen the varmints will come.

  17. My Calabrian grandparents used to bury their food scraps in the garden. I tried this one year going foot by foot, every couple of days with my quart of scraps, mixing them with some soil from the dug hole and then filling and tamping down the remaining dirt
    I had 12’ tall yellow sunflowers that year and cosmos, zinnia’s, and Mexican Red Sunflowers that bloomed profusely and continuously ‘til mid November!

  18. “If you know bears are active in your neighborhood, the best way to avoid attracting them is to take food scraps to one of the drop-off stations. You can locate them by contacting your local solid waste management district or town”

    Well, that didn’t work in Lincoln last year. I live just across the river from the dump, starting last year all the “dutiful” citizens in town began to bring their compost to the “transfer station”. Problem was that the hauler was not picking up the container until Wednesday (dump day was Saturday), of course by Wednesday the container was overturned and empty. Scoring at the the dump the bears then began investigating nearby properties looking for more. I’ve been composting my whole life with no problems…still no problems. The bears however continued to show up in my yard (a sow and her cub from previous year) separately every day. This despite that I have no trash outside, do not feed the birds, have no greasy gas grill. The bears never messed with my compost pile, but kept poking around the yard ignoring both my dogs barking at them. I finally ended it when I put rubber shotgun slugs on their backside. Then they just kept bothering the neighbors, but not me.