NJ Fish and Wildlife: Avoid Feeding Birds if You Live in an Area Frequented by Black Bears
Photo credit: NJ Fish and Wildlife
The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds residents that with the onset of spring, black bears are emerging from their winter dens and actively searching for food. Residents living in areas frequented by black bears should take steps to avoid attracting bears with birdfeed, garbage or other foods. This is the best way to prevent black bears from becoming a nuisance near your home.
Black bears learn very quickly and bears that are fed intentionally or unintentionally by carelessly leaving out food or garbage will associate people with food. Bears will eat almost anything including human food, garbage, pet food, birdseed and small livestock. Once they find an easily accessible food source, like garbage in a housing development, they will lose their wariness of people and may return to the available food source. One person feeding bears can create a problem bear that may affect the entire neighborhood.
- Avoid feeding birds if you live in an area frequented by black bears. Birds will survive without the supplemental seed that attracts bears. Instead, consider attracting birds to backyards with nesting materials and birdhouses.
- If you choose to feed birds, do so during daylight hours only, between December 1 and April 1, when bears are least active.
- Suspend feeder from a free-hanging wire, making sure it is at least 10 feet off the ground and at least 10 feet away from the trunk of a tree.
- Do not suspend feeders off of the house or deck.
- Keep in mind that black bears are excellent climbers!
- Bring bird feeders indoors at night.
- Use spill pans to prevent seeds from reaching the ground.
- Clean up spilled seeds and shells daily.
- Store birdfeed within a secure location where bears are unlikely to see or smell it.
To learn more about New Jersey's black bears, visit www.njfishandwildlife.com/bearfacts.htm. In addition to brochures and other information about living with black bears, the Division provides free bear education seminars to schools and civic groups.