DEC: Black bear activity in St. Lawrence County increasing as summer season ramps up
As black bears are becoming “increasingly active as the summer season ramps up,” locals can take steps to avoid encounters with bears looking for food sources, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.
In recent weeks, DEC says they have received “numerous reports” of bears entering suburban areas, breaking into buildings and vehicles, and approaching camp sites in efforts to obtain food.“Conflicts typically increase this time of year due to the dispersal of young bears from family groups, the onset of the breeding season, and a lull in natural food availability prior to the ripening of local berries,” DEC said.
These conditions occasionally cause bears to travel into unfamiliar areas, DEC says. Bears will take advantage of anything they consider a food source as they travel, adding to the potential for conflict. The most common attractants are poorly stored garbage, bird feeders, messy grills, and pet food left outdoors. Once a bear finds these foods, it will often continue to return to the area, according to a news release from DEC.
When bears have access to human foods, it encourages behaviors that can put bears at risk. Bears that frequent developed areas are at greater risk of being hit by cars, illegally shot by people that believe them to be a threat, or euthanized if the bear becomes a real threat. In addition, bears that become accustomed to obtaining food near human spaces will sometimes break into homes or vehicles to get food, DEC said.
DEC says people should take steps to avoid attracting and creating nuisance bears:
Never feed bears intentionally. Feeding bears intentionally is illegal and a ticketable offense. Bears that obtain food from humans will continue to seek food from humans and become nuisance bears, DEC said.
At a residence, remove all bird feeders. Keep garbage, grills, pet food, and bird seed inside a solid, secure structure (house, shed, garage, etc.). If grills cannot be secured, move grills away from houses and remove grease traps after each use. Put garbage on the curb the morning of collection, not the night before, and use bear-resistant trash containers. Close garage doors and ground-floor windows and doors at night, DEC said.
When camping at a campsite, keep campsites as clean as possible;