Vermont is home to a stable bear population at roughly 4,600 to 5,780, almost four times the state’s estimated population of 1,200 to 1,500 bears in 1975, according to the release. Comeau reports the odds of human and bear contact have increased in Vermont as a result of earlier spring weather because of climate change, reduced bear habitat because of development, and human encroachment into remote areas. Tips to Thwart Bears The department recommends Vermonters do the following to protect both Ursus americanus (black bears) and Homo sapiens (human beings): (1) Take down bird feeders until December. Birds have plenty to eat without bird feeders in warmer months. (2) Make garbage inaccessible by storing it in a secure structure and in a bear-proof container. (3) Dispose of garbage frequently. (4) Demand bear-proof dumpsters for your community. (5) Compost responsibly — compost needs to be three parts brown materials to one part kitchen scraps, turned frequently, and kept in a sturdy tumbler or bin. For more composting tips, check out this link. (6). Use electric fencing to keep chickens and bees safe. (7) Clean your grill after every use. (8) Make bears feel uncomfortable in your yard by yelling, banging pots and pans and other noisy devices. Never shoot a bear with either a real gun or a BB gun. (9) Report bear encounters to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. Bear Hunting Others are less concerned about bears coming after them and more concerned about going after bears. Bear hunting season runs from September 1 through the day before the 16-day regular deer season. This year it runs from November 12 to November 27. Late bear hunting season runs from November 12 through November 20. The limit is one bear per calendar year, according to the Vtfishandwildlife.com. Hunters are allowed to use up to six hounds if the person has a bear-dog permit and no commercial guiding occurs. Baiting is also prohibited. The practice of training hounds to hunt bears has raised ire among some people. Sophie Bowater of the Middlesex Front Porch Forum expressed concern about “bear hound hunting” training. Bowater writes that hound hunters use GPS devices and allow dogs to go on private property. And, according to Comeau, “bear hunting is often a topic of public interest and I am happy to help Vermonters better understand its role in bear management and conservation, but I also don’t want to lose sight of the importance of highlighting the conservation threats.” Conservation Threats Cause Bear Conflict Comeau reiterated by email that Vermonters need to prevent bears’ access to human foods first and foremost for bears’ safety. Again, conservation threats facing black bears are habitat loss, climate change, and access to human foods — leading to conflicts with people. “Access to human foods can have detrimental impacts on the well-being of individual bears and the bear population as a whole. We are seeing an increasing number of bears killed on Vermont roads and we are experiencing skyrocketing reports of bears searching for human-related foods in backyards and communities despite population estimates that show our bear population has been stable for the past decade.” Comeau asserts the state does not have more bears than before, rather, bear behavior is changing because humans have been too casual about allowing bears to have access to garbage and bird feeders.
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