Record # of bears invade homes

Vermonters fail to secure food sources, compost properly, officials say

By Guy Page

700 reports of bear invasions of Vermont homes have been reported this year, already exceeding the 650 reported all last year. Just a decade ago, the annual number of bear invasions was just 150. 

According to the Vermont Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, the problem isn’t bears – it’s people.

“Vermont’s black bears are learning to connect humans and food, and becoming bolder,” said wildlife biologist and Black Bear Project leader Jaclyn Comeau.“The number one cause of this dangerous, escalating behavior is Vermonters failing to secure food sources that attract bears. This failure is putting people and bears in danger.”  

“Coexisting with our healthy bear population requires all Vermonters to remove potential sources of conflict before problems start,” said Comeau. “Preventing a conflict is much easier than resolving an ongoing conflict and is the safest option for both bears and people.  Once a bear has learned truly high-risk behaviors like home entry, lethal control may be needed to protect human safety.  No one wants to have to resort to that measure.”

But what has really changed, on the human side? There’s no doubt that more people keep chickens in their backyards. Probably more people fed birds during the pandemic. 

But the “composting properly” part of Comeau’s explanation also (pardon the expression) bears looking at. 

The Vermont Legislature in 2020 prohibited Vermonters from throwing food scraps in the trash. Dumping food scraps in trashbags and garbage disposals are out. Instead law-abiding Vermonters must drop them off at collection centers, pay a service to haul them away, or  compost them in the backyard. 

The Legislature reasoned that food scraps take up too much of the state’s dwindling landfill capacity. They also contribute to climate change, as explained by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation: “food that is produced but not eaten contributes 8% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing food waste is one of the single most impactful actions for reducing the effects of climate change. Composting food scraps is also an important climate solution.” 

When it is trapped in a landfill, food waste decomposes slowly, and without oxygen. This process produces methane, which is a greenhouse gas 84 times more powerful than CO2 over a 20-year period, DEC explained. 

In its directions to Vermonters following passage of the law, DEC was not unaware of the threat posed by bears. 

“What about bears and other animals?,” the DEC website post asked rhetorically. “Animals can smell meat and bones, so don’t compost them in your backyard bin. Cover food scraps completely with dry, brown plant material to contain any smells.”

Maybe Vermonters are improperly storing trash in the backyard until they get around to hauling it to the dump. 

Maybe they’re composting wrong – too much meat and bones. Maybe not enough coverage of ‘drug, brown plant material’ (grass clippings harvested with the gas-powered lawnmower? leaves?) to keep bears away. 

To date, there are no reports of home-invading bears attacking people. But thanks at least in part to the 2020 law that bans tossing food down the garbage disposal or in the trash bag, that may just be a matter of time. 

Categories: Environment

10 replies »

  1. Common sense has been lost in this society. People need to think on their own, use logic, reason, learn from history not the T.V. and MSM. Reason why bears are bold is because people have lost their common sense about Nature and Animals. It is the fault of brainwashing the public using emotionalism, division and fear, the passing of Communist/Marxist laws to “control the population and the environment.”

    Liberty is from God not man.

  2. What we should be doing is handing out a copy of “Yogi’s Complete Guide to Preparing Liberal Human Cuisine,” to our bear friends.

    “If you go down to the woods today,
    You’d better not go alone!
    It’s lovely down in the woods today,
    But safer to stay at home!”

    I’d rather feed a bear than use my tax dollars to pay the inflated salary of a useless progressive bureaucrat. (Or maybe feed a useless over paid bureaucrat to a hungry bear?) How in the hell did bogus climate change get into this?

    Change the home composting laws and leave the bears be…

  3. There’s enough blame to go around. Sure, people have and will be reckless with their food compost. However, typical legislators decide to implement a policy without considering the public needs a lot of time to stop doing a practice many had been used to doing all their lives (a simple dumping of everything into one bin) and start a daily exercise in identification and logic of every discarded piece of waste.

    It takes a while to learn and get used to sorting waste into a dozen or so separate piles; basic trash, compostable food water, non-compostable food waste, plastics 1,2,3,4,5,6…, aluminum soda cans, aluminum non-soda can, bottle glass, window pane glass, metal, cardboard vs box board, plastic vs paper egg cartons, batteries, paint, construction waste, etc.

  4. It is true composting correctly will not draw animals other than mice moles …your solid waste district person can get you a barrel (suppose to roll when mostly full; I can say that is not true!!) or use a food grade barrel with holes in/around the bottom.
    NO meat, milk products, bones in your compost, take these to the dump or deep woods (I know they sell compost but meat bones milk…eeewwwwhhhh)
    add grass cuttings very small wood or chips, some weeding stuff (I keep that separate)
    have 2 composts going (the barrel from SWD has a nice tight lid, my barrel I use a kids sliding saucer with a rock!) one working, one cooking…..this very nice compost you then use in your garden, and start over…..it does take some time and getting use to; me probably 55 yrs as we composted on the farm…..just didnt call it that…….and keep other garbage containered..as well
    and if all that is too much, ask a neighbor if they want your compost for theirs……..

  5. Hey, and it’s all on the humans right ? Probably has nothing to do with a continually growing record bear population. It used to be a big deal to see a bear. Not so much anymore. I just saw one this afternoon up in Westmore. Mind you I’m not complaining, Maybe F&W should look into a spring season, or legalize baiting like Maine.

  6. Maybe we should take our compost to the state house lawn during legislative gatherings. What could be more fun than watching a bear chase a career progressive? It’s called the natural order of things.

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