KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- A high bear population is leading to more humans having problems with them, according to Game Warden Travis Buttle.
He said this summer he has handled between 50 and 60 bear-related complaints from people all over the county, about a 50 percent increase over last year. The animals are getting into bird feeders, beehives, corn crops, and garbage cans, the latter accounting for most of the complaints.
The bear problems are not restricted to one locale or type of environment, he said, adding that they are coming from both remote areas and rural ones. He said the bear population is in excess of the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s target numbers, plus the number of bears taken during hunting season has dropped. He said hunting is one of main tools the state has for controlling animal populations.
Buttle said he advises people on what to do to keep bears away, and so far has not had to return to any one spot.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife has a number of recommendations for keeping bears way. They include:
* Disposing of trash frequently and keeping it locked in clean containers. Buttle said he has, however, had reports of bears breaking into people’s garages and sheds in search of food.
* Keep pet food inside and make sure outdoor grills are kept clean.
* Keep bird feeders inside between April 1 and Dec. 1. Bird food is high in nutrients and bears seek it out.
* Livestock owners should dispose of dead animals by burying them or incinerating them.
Buttle said there have been no reports of injury from bears by people, but the department’s website urges people to not to allow bears to get used to coming around human homes, as the normally shy, non-aggressive creatures can lose their fear of people if they get used to them.