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  • Staff photo by DON HIMSEL

    Facebook- Don Himsel at the Nashua Telegraph

    A family of black bears scurries through a yard on Chatham Street in Nashua Monday, August 1, 2011.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Facebook- Don Himsel at the Nashua Telegraph

    A family of black bears scurries through a yard on Chatham Street in Nashua Monday, August 1, 2011.
Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bears should be waking up soon – secure those bird feeders

With a mild winter and limited snow cover around the state, officials are warning that bears are heading out of hibernation.

“The bottom line: Bears are not going to wait to the official end of winter to emerge from dens this year,” Fish and Game bear project leader Andrew Timmins said.

Timmins recommends taking bird feeders down now.

“It has been an odd year for bears,” Timmins said. “Bears remained very active during December and early January.

“In late January, multiple calls came in reporting bears wandering around homes feeding on dropped wild apples and birdseed. Also, we experienced a phenomenal beechnut crop last fall. Bears fed heavily in beech groves into December and likely will again this spring. These nuts will provide bears an important food source this spring for a month or two.”

Even if there are leftover nuts in the woods, bears will take advantage of birdseed and other appetizing morsels found around homes.

One food that’s nearly irresistible to bears is black oil sunflower seeds. Fish and Game warns if bears have previously found sunflower seeds at your home, they’ll be back looking for more.

Another temptation for bears is garbage, which also should be secured.

“If you secure your garbage and remove bird feeders, you have addressed the two temptations that cause the vast majority of bear/human conflicts in New Hampshire,” Timmins said. “Removing these two common attractants will go a long way toward reducing the number of annual bear complaints.”

The New Hampshire black bear population is estimated at about 5,000.

Fish and Game recommends avoiding encounters with bears by taking a few simple precautions:

Because of the mild winter, stop all bird feeding now or put feeders away as soon as you can.

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.

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 intentionally feed bears.

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

For more information on preventing conflicts with black bears, visit

For advice about bear-related problems, call 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.