Bears emerging from winter dens early, on prowl for food

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FARMINGTON — Bears are coming out of their deep winter sleep a little earlier than usual this year due to the mild weather. That means they are hungry and looking for food wherever they can find it.

State wildlife biologist Chuck Hulsey encourages people to put away their bird feeders until July 1, clean up any spilled bird food and secure trash inside a building as part as an effort to avoid enticing bear into residential areas.

He had his first call about a bear getting into trash Friday.

“Every year, like clockwork, we deal with a lot of bear issues“ he said, as bears begin to emerge from their dens.

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Bears do not truly hibernate because their body temperature doesn‘t drop, he said, but they do sleep a lot beginning in mid-October and emerging in April. They have their young in February.

When they come out of their dens, they are starved for calories, he said.

There is not much food around for them since the plants have not come out, and the grass has not turned green, he said.

A great source of calories are bird feeders, trash and gas grills, he said. If people don’t provide these sources, then they won’t have any reason to come into yards and close to living quarters.

Trash needs to be inside, he said. People think if they leave it outside in a trash can with a lid that will prevent bear from getting into it. It won’t, he said.

It’s like telling a 3-year-old you put the cookies in the cookie jar, and they know where it is, he said.

If bears get used to being able to get close to residences to get bird food, trash, or even lick grills, there is a chance that someone will kill it, he said.

New Hampshire has come up with a slogan that fits the situation..

“A fed bear is a dead bear,“ he said.

It is really easy to prevent this, he said, by keeping food sources out of reach.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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