Spring is here – It’s Time to Take Down Bird Feeders!

Remember how much bear damage was done to our 3D archery targets last fall?

Well, the bears will be awake and hungry by now, and NH Fish and Game reminds us that it’s time to insure that your home does not attract them.

From: N.H. Fish and Game
Date: Wed, Apr 8, 2015 at 4:43 PM
Subject: NHF&G News: Spring is here – It’s Time to Take Down Bird Feeders!

News from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
Phone: (603) 271-3211
Email: New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
For information and online licenses, visit NH Fish and Game Department

* * * * * * *

Andrew Timmins: (603) 788-3164
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
April 8, 2015


CONCORD, N.H. – Despite a deep snow pack across much of the state, the long-anticipated spring has finally arrived to New Hampshire. The strong spring sunshine, longer days and warmer temperatures not only melt the snow, it lures hungry bears out of winter torpor. As bears start to get active, let it serve as a reminder that it is time to put the bird feeders away until next fall. To help prevent bear visits, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department recommends not feeding birds from April 1 to December 1.

By taking action now, you can prevent attracting a bear to your home. Do not wait for a bear to get the bird feeder and then respond. Doing so encourages foraging behavior by bears near residences. A single food reward will cause the bear to return and continue to search the area for food. Bear-human conflict mitigation is far more successful when people are proactive.

Black oil sunflower seeds are simply too high a quality of food (high in fat and protein) for bears to ignore, explains Fish and Game Bear Biologist Andrew Timmins. Natural bear foods during spring and summer are generally high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat. As a result, birdseed is high on the menu! If bears have previously acquired sunflower seeds at your home, they will be back looking for more. So take down bird feeders and secure other attractants.

While bear-human conflicts continue to fluctuate from one year to the next, conflicts in New Hampshire have stabilized over the past decade at 695 per year. This stable trend represents a real success story and has only been possible due to the willingness of the New Hampshire public to prevent conflicts and the dedicated efforts of staff from USDA Wildlife Services and N.H. Fish and Game. Despite the progress, there is still plenty of work ahead. Common attractants such as bird feeders and unsecured garbage continue to be the cause of nearly half the annual complaints. Addressing these attractants would significantly reduce bear-human conflicts.

The rate of bear/human conflicts that will occur this spring and summer is difficult to predict. “Bears went to den in good shape in most areas, due to generally abundant acorn crops last fall. However, it has been a long denning season, and bears have depleted considerable body fat,” says Timmins. “When bears emerge, they will be hungry and food will be limited until spring green-up occurs. We are hoping homeowners will be vigilant and remove or secure food attractants so as not to entice bears and create nuisance behavior.”

Homeowners should take action to reduce the chances of a bear visiting their home. Avoid encounters with bears by taking a few simple precautions:

  • Stop all bird feeding by April 1.
  • Clean up any spilled birdseed and dispose of it in the trash.
  • Secure all garbage in airtight containers inside a garage or adequate storage area, and put garbage out on the morning of pickup, not the night before. If using a dumpster, inform your dumpster company that you need a dumpster with metal locking tops and doors that are inaccessible to bears and other wildlife.
  • Avoid putting meat or other food scraps in your compost pile.
  • Don’t leave pet food dishes outside overnight.
  • Clean and store outdoor grills after each use.
  • Finally, never feed bears!

These steps will help to ensure that your backyard does not become attractive to bears and other wildlife, which is important because it prevents property damage by bears and because it keeps bears from becoming nuisance animals.

For more information on preventing conflicts with black bears, visit Something’s Bruin in New Hampshire.

If you have questions about bear-related problems, you can get advice by calling a toll-free number coordinated jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department: 1-888-749-2327 (1-888-SHY-BEAR).

Copyright 2015 New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, 11 Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301.