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Vermont wildlife officials urge proactive measures to prevent bear conflicts

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NEWPORT — The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is calling on residents to take immediate actions to prevent bear conflicts as the animals have begun emerging from their dens earlier than usual this spring.

Jaclyn Comeau, the department’s bear biologist, emphasized the importance of proactive measures such as removing birdfeeders and securing trash to avoid attracting bears to residential areas.

“Bear incidents have been increasing over the past few years due to a combination of factors including a robust black bear population and shorter winters,” Comeau said. Bears are reportedly waking from hibernation as much as two weeks earlier than what has been typical, prompting an earlier start to the bear-aware season.

The department advises Vermonters to take several steps to coexist safely with bears: taking down birdfeeders, using bear-resistant containers for garbage and compost, employing electric fences to protect livestock such as chickens and honeybees, and feeding pets indoors. Additionally, residents are encouraged to request bear-resistant dumpsters from waste management services.

Human-bear conflicts are often exacerbated by bears associating human environments with easy food sources, a behavior passed down through generations.

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“Preventing bears from accessing human-related foods is crucial for the safety of both bears and people,” Comeau stated.

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department also requests that any bear activity related to food, such as raiding birdfeeders or garbage, be reported via their Living with Black Bears web page. These reports help wildlife officials track bear behavior and intervene before conflicts escalate.

Comeau warns, “Intentionally feeding bears is harmful to the animals, dangerous for people, and illegal. It’s vital that residents remove food attractants and report any bear problems promptly.”

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