Nuisance bear woes likely to ease, but warnings remain

July 24, 2019 GMT

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The nuisance bear problem is likely to ease in the next few weeks as nuts, berries and other natural foods ripen in forests, Vermont’s top bear biologist said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, state and federal officials continue to warn people to keep food away from the hungry animals.

The warnings come after Vermont game wardens destroyed two bears in the past two weeks.

One of the bears was put down this month after it continued to approach people on the Appalachian Trail in the southern Vermont town of Glastonbury and ransack property, including two tents. The other was killed by a warden in Underhill after it twice went into a home and ate from the refrigerator.


It’s been more than 80 years since anyone was seriously hurt by a bear in Vermont, but officials remember the 2018 instance in Groton, New Hampshire, in which a woman was injured when a bear was trapped in her home.

“It does seem like we have a lot of reports this year and a lot of fairly serious ones,” said Forrest Hammond, the bear biologist for the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife.

But he wasn’t sure if the human-bear conflicts were getting worse or if his department and others are doing more to publicize the encounters as a way to warn the public to keep food away from bears.

On Wednesday the U.S. Forest Service announced it had implemented a new rule designed to minimize encounters between black bears and people using the Green Mountain National Forest by requiring that food people bring into the forest be stored in bear-proof containers, in vehicles or hung at least 12 feet (3.66 meters) off the ground and 6 feet (1.83 meters) horizontally from any object.

In general, biologists warn homeowners to take down birdfeeders in the summer and lock up other sources of food, such as dog food, so bears can’t get it.