Mandated food scraps attract bears

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

VT Fish & Wildlife photo

“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 Forrest Hammond.  “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 www.802recycles.com, 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 www.VTrecycles.com.

The public is encouraged to contact their local warden if they are having a bear issue.  You can find out who your local warden is at https://anrweb.vt.gov/FWD/FW/WardenLookup.aspx.  You may also submit a black bear incident report at https://anrweb.vt.gov/FWD/FW/WildlifeBearReport.aspx.  

Categories: Environment

2 replies »

  1. Give GMP/GAZ a boost… electrify your yard! Electrify, electrify, electrify.
    No consequences for electromagnetic bodies at all… electrify.
    Bottom line: Profit motive.
    Own it.
    Its SO easy NOT to build a barrier between yourselves/ourselves, and nature.
    In fact, its MUCH easier.
    And learning to be responsible co-habitant of Vermont’s wild and wild life is FUN…but limits your screentime, guaranteed. You won’t want to go back …you’ll be checking to see what else shows up.
    The last reported bear mauling in Vermont was…when?
    Oh… yeah…the woman who found the bear on her porch that decided to use the steps she was on to get away from her…and was the danger…because you know… the bear had no place to go because she had cornered it.
    Bad bear.

  2. The ban on food scraps in landfills is a good thing and people who live with any reasonable piece of land around them need to deal with on-site composting…no big deal. It’s the lack of foresight in the VT Legislature that is the amusing thing. It was already against state law to create a bear-attractant nuisance in ones yard when they passed the food scrap law, so their suggestion that everyone now invest in electric fencing is an opportunity to tell the idiots in Montpelier to go pound sand. We have had a bottle deposit law in Vermont for decades and 10 years ago they subsequently caved in to the feds and passed an open alcohol container law for vehicles. This law prohibits open/empty containers in the “manufacturer designated passenger area of a vehicle”. For those who drive a mini van, station wagon or SUV, there is no place in the vehicle that empties can be legally carried to transport them for redemption. Tom Little, the attorney who was then the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee reasoned that “we can count on police discretion to decide when someone is violating the law”. This is what we vote for.

Leave a Reply