Maine has a very high population of bears, and they are showing up all over the state. In my town of Mount Vernon, several residents have had bears in their yards. Here is some good advice from DIF&W on how to deal with problem bears.
Maine has the largest population of black bears in the lower 48, and they’re most active April through November.
When natural foods are scarce, especially in the spring or dry summers, bears will venture into backyards in search of easily accessible food such as bird feeders, garbage, grills and pet foods.
While hundreds of conflicts between bears and people are reported each year in Maine, many can be prevented by simply removing or securing common bear attractants. Removing these food sources will also limit other backyard visitors (raccoons, skunks, etc).
Since bears are active between April and November, each spring and summer take these steps to avoid unwanted black bears in your backyard or neighborhood:
· Secure garbage and recycling: Food and food odors attract bears, so don’t encourage them with easily available food, liquids or garbage. Store garbage cans inside until the morning of trash pickup.
· Remove and store bird feeders: Birdseed and grains have lots of calories, so they’re very attractive to bears. Removing feeders is the best way to avoid damage to your feeders and property. Rake up any seed from the ground and store bird feeders and bird seed inside. Even an empty bird feeder can be enticing to a bear and they will tear it down, damage or destroy it. You can continue to feed birds in the winter when bears are not active.
· Never leave pet food outdoors: Feed pets indoors when possible. If you must feed pets outside, feed in single portions and remove food and bowls after feeding. Store pet food inside where bears can’t see or smell it.
· Clean and store your grill: Clean grills after each use and make sure that all grease, fat and food particles are removed. Store clean grills and smokers in a secure building to keep bears out.
See bears in the area or evidence of bear activity? Tell your neighbors and share information with them on how to avoid bear conflicts.
Once a bear discovers an easy food source, they will return and they will cause damage to your property. This spring, be proactive and take these simple steps to avoid problems with black bears in your backyard or neighborhood.