Biologists and ECOs have recently been receiving reports of bears roaming neighborhoods in search of food and territory. DEC Commissioner Seggos said, “We are encouraging New Yorkers to help reduce the potential for negative interactions with bears by removing the things bears find attractive like pet food and trash.”
The Northern Catskills is prime habitat for black bears. In fact, the entire area surrounding the Catskill Mountains maintains a robust, healthy black bear population. That inevitably leads to human-bear conflicts, especially in summer which is a very active time for black bears.
“…Young bears disperse from family groups, breeding bears search for mates, and all bears forage for food to gain the fat needed for winter. With this increased activity comes a greater potential for human-bear conflicts, when bears find food near people.”
DEC recently set out a few guidelines that have proven to be effective in reducing human/bear conflicts. They are:
Feed Pets Indoors
Bears have a highly developed sense of smell and feeding pets outdoors will inevitably lead to spilled, uneaten, or stored pet food that attracts bears as well as other animals like raccoons, skunks, and opossums. Storing and feeding pets indoors will help you avoid unwanted visits to your home from bears looking for pet food.
DEC and common sense dictate the need to secure garbage indoors or a locked outbuilding until the morning of pickup. Storing garbage outside for any length of time is like ringing the dinner bell for black bears. Many bears are acutely aware of your garbage pick-up schedule and plan their activity around it.
This is especially true once they have succeeded in scoring a big meal from unsecured garbage containers. Bear proof containers and dumpsters do work and should be available from your waste disposal company.
If leaving unsecured garbage is like to ringing the dinner bell for bears, keeping bird feeders out is akin to sending them a personal invitation to dessert. Black bears absolutely love bird seed, especially the backyard favorite, black oiled sunflower seeds. Its like M&M candy for bruins.
The only time its safe to keep bird feeders out in bear country is the only time birds actually need our assistance; during the dead of winter when bears are denned and natural forage is scarce for wintering birds. So, if its spring, summer, or fall, take feeders down.
Clean Grease from Grills
This is an easy one. Meals cooked on outdoor grills often create a scent/smoke trail that can lure bears in. But the grease pan found underneath many types of grills stays with the grill long after the smoke and scent dissipate. That makes it an ongoing attractant to hungry bears in the area. Most types of grease traps on gas grills remove easily for cleaning.
So, the bottom line is, if you live in bear country, (and if you’re reading this, you probably do), and you feed pets indoors, secure your garbage, take down bird feeders, and clean the grease from your grill, you’ll likely be the person NOT having any conflicts with bears.
You may even be lucky enough to see the majestic black bear as it harmlessly passes through your yard. With no food to be found, it probably won’t stay around much longer than time for a quick pic with your phone. Turning a potential negative into a thrilling positive just because you followed a few common-sense suggestions from DEC.
Simply put, and to quote an old anthem among nuisance bear professionals, Remove the Food, Remove the Bear.
Have a Great 4th of July, and Happy Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping until next time.
News and Notes
Columbia County resident and local bass fishing tournament organizer, Bill Johnson says the next Lake Taghkanic Bass Tournament will be on July 17 from 4-11 a.m. Entry is $40 per person and includes lunker prize entry.
Weigh-in is at West Beach. 100 % pay-out for 1st place, 30% for 2nd 25%, 20% for 4th and 15% for 5th 10% with 6th place winning their entry fee back. Tournament rules are five fish per boat, fish must be alive at weigh-in, live bait is allowed. Boats must have a live-well. For more information call Bill Johnson at (518) 537-5455. Subsequent tournaments scheduled for July 31 and August 14.
Remember to report poaching violations by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.
You can share any comments with our sports desk at email@example.com
*If you have a fishing, trapping, or hunting report, photo, or event you would like to be considered for publication, send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org