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Bears are moving across New York: DEC says to secure food

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  • Staff Report 

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is urging residents to secure food sources that might attract bears, as bear sightings increase due to the animals’ search for high-calorie meals after winter hibernation. “By removing and/or securing food sources that might attract bears, the public is helping keep bears away from people, homes and neighborhoods, which helps keep bears healthy, wild, and safe,” says the DEC. The alert comes in the wake of a surveillance video captured at a Chemung County home showing a black bear exploring a carport and garbage cans, demonstrating the potential bear menace in residential areas.

The DEC has recorded 437 bear sightings or complaints in New York over the past six months, a slight decrease from 501 during the same period last year. However, one unpleasant encounter with a bear can disrupt daily life significantly. Current population estimates suggest that New York is home to 6,000 to 8,000 bears, with the majority located in the Adirondack region and the Catskills. Bears have also been spotted in more populated areas like the Hudson Valley and the Southern Tier, contributing to an increased likelihood of human-bear conflicts.

To mitigate interaction with bears, DEC wildlife biologist Brendan Quirion suggests emptying bird feeders, cleaning spilled seeds, securing garbage cans in sturdy buildings, cleaning grills, and keeping pet and livestock food indoors. Electric fences are recommended for chicken coops and apiaries. If a bear is spotted, it is advised to provide the animal with an escape route, or to make loud noises from a safe distance to scare it away. Intentional feeding of bears is illegal in New York, as this can make them bold and aggressive.