Second bear attack since August 20 sends human to hospital

As bear population grows, food scrap composting law increases unwanted human-bear interaction, and feds seek to limit hunting bears with dogs

by Guy Page

Two of Vermont’s five recorded bear attacks in Vermont have occurred in the last 80 days. The latest happened last night in Stratton, a ski/tourist town in Bennington County. 

Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department game wardens and biologists said today are actively investigating a bear attack in Stratton Wednesday, November 2. The victim was treated for non-life-threatening injuries sustained during the attack and discharged from Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington. More information on this active investigation will be released as it becomes available.

Wednesday’s bear attack on a human is at least the second in Vermont this year. Susan Lee, 61, of Strafford, was treated at Gifford Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries after being bitten and scratched by a female bear August 20, game wardens say. The woman and her dogs were attacked by a female attempting to protect her cubs, game wardens say. 

Before that attack, there have been only three bear attacks on record. 

“Bear attacks are extremely rare in Vermont,” said Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department Bear Biologist Jaclyn Comeau on August 20, adding that the department has records of only three prior bear attacks in the state. “However, at this time of year black bears are moving in family units and mothers will be protective of their cubs. If confronted by a bear it is essential to remain calm and back away slowly, and to fight back immediately if attacked.”

Vermont’s bear population has quadrupled in 50 years. Wildlife officials have been hoping the fall bear hunting season would reduce that number. Legislation to limit the use of dogs hunting bears has so far failed in the Vermont Legislature. However, Vermont hunting groups are protesting similar federal bear-hunting restrictions in the large Silvio Conte Wildlife Refuge in eastern Vermont. 

Vermont’s law requiring composting of food scraps also has had the unintended consequence of increasing unwanted bear-human interaction. 

Comeau also advises Vermonters to make their yards and homes less food-friendly to hungry bears. “Many people are having problems with bears looking for food near their homes. With the food scrap ban in effect, Dept. of Fish & Wildlife is providing tips for people who are composting at home so they can avoid attracting hungry bears,” Comeau said July 6. 

“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 Comeau.  “We are offering some guidance on how to compost at home without attracting bears.” 

Categories: Outdoors

8 replies »

  1. Given rising prices and possible shortages of food stocks and the way things are going, I want to pass on some info.

    Bear meat is very good, and great roasted whole, on a spit, exactly like a hog, but when skinning it out, you need to be careful not to cut into the scent glans, as it can taint the meat.

    If you render the fat, and save it, it makes the best leather dressing on the planet, boots ,belts ,laces ect.

    The hide makes a good rug, but dogs don’t like the smell.

    Over 100 years ago, the old Vermont farmers wives, used the fat for baking, and swore it made the best pie crust ,so before you turn up your nose on eating bear…I’d think twice, and lastly it really gives a lot of power.

  2. Can confirm. Thanks to the new bonkers and confusing policy about dumping food waste I now just dump it in the backyard. And yup….this year bears have destroyed feeders in the backyard. This in SW Chittenden county.

  3. After 30 plus years in the same location, for the first time this year l had a problem with bears. The first visit, l placed a high caliber shot next to it to frighten away…that lasted a week. Then daily a large adult (likely a sow) and a gangly teenager (likely last year’s cub) took turns coming morning and evening. I don’t feed the birds and my garbage is inside until dump day. I have been composting my whole life and nothing has ever bothered it including this time. The bears pulled down an empty defunct bee hive and then just came back every day poking around the yard for nothing in particular, even with my dogs going out and barking at them. I believe the attraction was the poorly thought out warm fuzzy, save the world knee jerk mandatory composting law. I live across the road and river from our town dump, every Saturday all the townsfolk dutifully bring their food scraps separately to the dump and pay for it. The scrap goes into a typical personal rollaway like anyone would have at the end of their driveway. There it sat from Saturday until Wednesday when the contracted company showed up to pick it up…guess what? Overturned and empty! Then it was on to my place and the neighbors to look around for more. What a great idea that was, eh Montpelier?…NOT!!! Rubber shotgun slugs did the trick, the teenager in the evening and the adult in morning…haven’t seen them since. My neighbors were still seeing them, guess the sting of the rubber was enough for them to scratch me off their itinerary.

    • I hear ya with the idiotic but almost essentially mandatory composting stuff that Montpelier pushed upon this state comprising just over 600,000 people….the state literature I once saw actually recommended that your pets should be allowed to eat the garbage scraps out of the compost – now there’s some more highly intelligent advice from clueless politicians — yes, let your dogs & cats eat maggot-infested food, chomp away on cooked bones that they can easily die from ingesting and don’t forget those onions & raisins & chocolates that are toxic to pets too! Great advice, politicos! Got any more? Maybe allowing boys into girl’s bathrooms & locker rooms in schools? Or how about proclaiming that virtually none of you suddenly seem to not even know what a woman is? Hint: They and they alone birth babies & often nourish them via their own bodies!!! Remember your 10th grade biology class, former kiddies? C’mon boys…. I bet you that you all seemed to get what girls were decades ago – when you were parked & engaged in all that “wrestling” in the back of your dad’s car! Try some little blue pills: Maybe it might jog your collective memories.

    • Side note about composting, l never compost meat scraps. Anything edible (not rotten) the dog can have, bones in the freezer until dump day…better yet, during heating season bones and other meat scraps right into the wood stove. Smells like bbq outside and the resulting burned bone fragments are a good source of phosphorus in next spring’s garden.

  4. I just ignore the composting law bs. I laugh every time I throw a banana peel or apple core in the garbage. As my mother always said….you got to enjoy the little things in life. And by the way, guess what, no bears!

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