Hampton Police: Watch Out for Hungry Bears That Want Your Bird Feeders, Trash Cans
Bears have been spotted in several Seacoast neighborhoods this spring as they are fully awake after "denning" for the winter and are looking for food that your bird feeder and garbage can provides.
New Hampshire Fish & Game had warned that backyard bird feeders be taken down and garbage cans be by the beginning of April. They provide a source of food for bears who don't usually mean harm to humans. But because people are frightened by a visit from a bear it can lead to conflicts that usually end with a bear having to be forcibly removed from an area.
Hampton police posted doorbell video showing a bear at night walking through a yard on the west end of Exeter Road.
Earlier in the season a member of The (un)Official City of Dover, NH Facebook page on Facebook named Kaitlyn showed video of a black bear in her backyard of her Middle Road home in early March. A Plaistow resident shared video with WCVB TV of a bear in their backyard.
There are nearly 5,000 black bears in New Hampshire, the only bears species in the state, according to NH Fish and Game.
What attracts a bear to your backyard? NH Fish & Game bear biologist Andy Timmons said bird feeders are one of the leading causes of bear/human conflicts in the state.
"Black oil sunflower seed is higher in fat and protein than anything a bear will find during the spring and summer months in New Hampshire so it becomes a real draw. By having bird feeders out you're pulling into residential neighborhoods," Timmons said.
Timmons said the bird feeders out during the day and bringing them inside at night is not a good idea because the accumulation of seed on the ground below the feeders will also attract a bear.
Bird baths and shrubs that produce food birds like will bring them to your yard without a feeder, Timmons said.
Fish & Game says bears are not usually aggressive towards humans but will protect their cubs. A mother bear will make a huffing or popping noise as a warning that you are too close which is called a "bluff charge."
If this occurs, Fish & Game says you should:
- Keep your distance. Make it aware of your presence by clapping, talking, singing or making other sounds
- Maintain eye contact with the bear
- Speak in a soft, calm voice and slowly back away from the bear to show you are not weak but also not a threat.
- Do not run, avert your eyes or turn your back to the bear. The bear may perceive weakness and enforce dominance.
- The bear's "bluff charge" and chomping of teeth are a defense mechanism to establish the bear's dominance in an encounter with humans or a more dominant animal in the wild. Bears can outrun, out-swim and out-climb you.
- If you are attacked by a black bear, you should fight back rather than "play dead."
Maine's Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife also suggests:
- Rake up unused bird seed from the ground
- Keep pet food & trash inside or in fenced in areas
- Clean grills thoroughly after use
Bird feeders can safely be put back up after December 1. However, bears that have access to winter feeders will sometimes remain active and visit feeder late into December and sometimes beyond, according to Fish & Game.
Fish & Game on their website says birds will okay without your feeder.