Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

NH: June, July are busy months for bears

Homeowners and campers should take precation to avoid attracting
bears.

CONCORD, N.H. — The 4th of July marks the start of holiday and
vacation season in New Hampshire and represents a time when many
people will be camping, hiking, fishing and having backyard
barbeques. This popular holiday also marks the time when the
greatest numbers of bear-human conflicts occur in the state.

“July is the busiest month of the year in terms of conflicts
with bears,” said Andrew Timmins, N.H. Fish and Game’s Bear Project
Leader. “If you live or recreate in New Hampshire, you’re in bear
country and you need to do your part to prevent attracting bears.
Avoiding bear conflicts can be simple and involves managing and
securing food attractants. Homeowners and campers can prevent bear
visits by taking simple steps like bringing in bird feeders and pet
bowls, keeping barbeque grills clean and stored in a garage, or, if
car camping, keeping all food and coolers in a building or vehicle
with the windows rolled up.”

When selecting a campsite for the holiday weekend, Timmins
suggests that campers consider choosing a campground that uses
bear-proof dumpsters. “Many campgrounds in New Hampshire have done
a great job reducing attractants around their facilities, which
substantially reduces the chance of a conflict with bears,” he
said.

Timmins asks all New Hampshire residents and visitors to do
their part to prevent conflicts with bears. “Preventive actions
will avoid the chances of bears forming nuisance behavior, becoming
habituated to human foods, causing property damage and are
essential to maintaining the state’s bear population,” Timmins
says. “There is truth to the adage that ‘a fed bear is a dead
bear.’ Once they get used to relying on human food sources, some
‘nuisance’ bears may need to be destroyed. If you are intentionally
feeding bears, you may be contributing to their death. Don’t do it!
It is illegal.”

During recent years, there has been an increase in bear
encounters along popular hiking trails and at backcountry
campsites. Bears have learned that human-related foods are
available in these areas, especially on busy weekends. Bears have
learned to follow hikers and “beg” for food and to raid tents and
backpacks for food. When food is tossed to bears, even if it is an
attempt to divert the animal, the bear is immediately rewarded.
Once a bear becomes successful at this behavior, it is hard to
break the habit. If you encounter a bear, yell at it, make loud
noise, throw rocks and sticks in its direction and make the bear
uncomfortable. The worst thing to do is to throw food at the bear,
because that rewards the bear and perpetuates undesirable
behavior.

The No. 1 rule for avoiding conflicts with bears while hiking
and camping is to maintain a clean campsite. All food, garbage and
aromatic items (such as toothpaste and other toiletries) should be
stored out of reach of a bear. People should bring rope to properly
hang these items. Some remote sites contain food canisters; these
should always be used when available. Do not store food, garbage or
toiletries in your tent. To assist visitors, the Androscoggin
Ranger District in Gorham has purchased twenty food canisters and
is making them available on a first-come, first-served basis for up
to five days. Visitors provide information (including phone and
address), receive instructions on how to use and return the food
canister, and then sign for it. Visitors will be responsible for
the clean return of the food canister – either in person or by
mail. For more information on this canister-loan program, go to
http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/white.

Summer represents a somewhat lean time for bears, according to
Timmins. “The acorns that fell last fall have turned into woody
sprouts that are now unattractive to bears,” he said. “The lush
spring vegetation has hardened off and is less valuable to bears.
Although the wild strawberries have recently ripened, the bulk of
the important summer fruits that provide food for bears will not
become available until a few weeks from now.” This period of low
food abundance, noted Timmins, causes bears to search out and
utilize high-quality and readily available foods provided by
humans, and is the main reason why the majority of bear complaints
in New Hampshire occur during June and July.

Take action to reduce the chances of a bear visiting your home
or campsite with these simple precautions:

* Stop all bird feeding by April 1 or as soon as snow
melts.

* Clean up any spilled birdseed and dispose of it in the
trash.

* Secure all garbage in airtight containers inside a garage or
adequate storage area, and put garbage out on the morning of
pickup, not the night before.

* Avoid putting meat or other food scraps in your compost
pile.

* Don’t leave pet food dishes outside overnight.

* Clean and store outdoor grills after each use.

* Do not leave food, grease or garbage unsecured around
campsites.

* Store food and coolers in a closed vehicle or secured area while
camping.

* Finally, never intentionally feed bears!

For more information on preventing conflicts with black bears,
visit http://www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/Somethings_Bruin.htm.

If you have questions about bear-related problems, you can get
advice by calling a toll-free number coordinated jointly by the
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services and the New
Hampshire Fish and Game Department: 1-888-749-2327
(1-888-SHY-BEAR).

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