Be bear aware for rest of summer

CONCORD – Even though the summer is starting to wind down and thoughts of fall hang in the distance, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the U.S. Forest Service urges homeowners, campers and the rest of the public to continue to be vigilant and responsible in bear country.

The peak period of conflicts between bears and humans is June and July; however, bear activity in and around
human-occupied areas can continue through August and September.

This is particularly true during years of low food abundance, which has been the case in New Hampshire this summer.

"Soft mast crops, particularly blueberries and raspberries, have had poor yields this past summer, producing below-average crops," said Andrew Timmins, bear biologist with N.H. Fish and Game. "This lack of natural foods causes bears to search out high-quality, readily available foods provided by humans – birdfeeders, garbage, unsecured coolers – and represents the primary reason people have increased conflicts with bears."

This time period coincides with the peak tourist season and a time when a lot of residents and visitors are recreating outside in bear habitat.

"Campgrounds are full, restaurant dumpsters are overflowing and human-related food attractants are highly abundant across the landscape," Timmins said.

Timmins also notes that complaints are running above average this year, and are up considerably from 2015. Complaints during 2015 were at their lowest level in 20 years because of highly abundant natural bear food that year.

The primary cause of the poor fruit production by several species this summer appears mostly related to the semi-drought conditions across the state, Timmins said.

Because of "limited rainfall, even the blackberry crop, which had an incredible amount of blossoms this spring, is starting to suffer," he said. "Although blackberry tends not to ripen until mid-August, the fruit load is tremendous. Unfortunately, dry conditions are starting to cause the berries to become desiccated.

"Blackberries are an important late summer and early fall food source for bears, and losing this crop would likely cause bear-human conflicts to linger into early fall."

The cause of about 60 percent of annual bear-human conflicts is birdfeeders, garbage and inadequately secured chickens.

Despite ongoing educational efforts, these attractants remain numerous on the landscape, thereby perpetuating conflicts.

In addition to household attractants, there has been recent activity at some campgrounds, particularly in the White Mountain National Forest. When camping, it is critical that all food be stored so that bears can’t gain access.

Food left on picnic tables and in coolers at the campsite are easy targets. Bears quickly learn that their mere presence causes campers to move away, making these attractants easily attainable.

Campers and hikers can avoid conflicts with bears by maintaining a clean campsite and storing food, garbage and aromatic items, such as toothpaste and other toiletries, out of reach of bears – and not in your tent.

If car camping, keep all food and coolers in a building or vehicle with the windows closed. If camping at a remote site, bring rope to properly hang these items, or use a bear-resistant canister, available for rent at no charge at all White Mountain National Forest Ranger Districts offices. For information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/whitemountain.

"We want to emphasize the importance of proper food storage, so that not only you, but future campers to the campground, will have a positive experience," said Marianne Leberman, White Mountain National Forest Recreation Program leader. "Be considerate of future campers and wildlife, since it only takes one food reward to encourage bears to return to the source."

You can help by following the guidelines at www.wild nh.com/wildlife/somethings-bruin.html.

Fish and Game recommends that people take these actions to reduce the chances of a bear visiting your home or campsite:

? Stop all bird feeding by April 1, or as soon as snow melts.

? 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.

? Don’t leave food, grease or garbage unsecured around campsites.

? Store food and coolers in a closed vehicle or secured area while camping.

? Finally, never intentionally feed bears!

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.

Submitted by
New Hampshire Fish and Game Department

Be bear aware for rest of summer

CONCORD – Even though the summer is starting to wind down and thoughts of fall hang in the distance, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the U.S. Forest Service urges homeowners, campers and the rest of the public to continue to be vigilant and responsible in bear country.

The peak period of conflicts between bears and humans is June and July; however, bear activity in and around human-occupied areas can continue through August and September.

This is particularly true during years of low food abundance, which has been the case in New Hampshire this summer.

"Soft mast crops, particularly blueberries and raspberries, have had poor yields this past summer, producing below-average crops," said Andrew Timmins, bear biologist with N.H. Fish and Game. "This lack of natural foods causes bears to search out high-quality, readily available foods provided by humans – birdfeeders, garbage, unsecured coolers – and represents the primary reason people have increased conflicts with bears."

This time period coincides with the peak tourist season and a time when a lot of residents and visitors are recreating outside in bear habitat.

"Campgrounds are full, restaurant dumpsters are overflowing and human-related food attractants are highly abundant across the landscape," Timmins said.

Timmins also notes that complaints are running above average this year, and are up considerably from 2015. Complaints during 2015 were at their lowest level in 20 years because of highly abundant natural bear food that year.

The primary cause of the poor fruit production by several species this summer appears mostly related to the semi-drought conditions across the state, Timmins said.

Because of "limited rainfall, even the blackberry crop, which had an incredible amount of blossoms this spring, is starting to suffer," he said. "Although blackberry tends not to ripen until mid-August, the fruit load is tremendous. Unfortunately, dry conditions are starting to cause the berries to become desiccated.

"Blackberries are an important late summer and early fall food source for bears, and losing this crop would likely cause bear-human conflicts to linger into early fall."

The cause of about 60 percent of annual bear-human conflicts is birdfeeders, garbage and inadequately secured chickens.

Despite ongoing educational efforts, these attractants remain numerous on the landscape, thereby perpetuating conflicts.

In addition to household attractants, there has been recent activity at some campgrounds, particularly in the White Mountain National Forest. When camping, it is critical that all food be stored so that bears can’t gain access.

Food left on picnic tables and in coolers at the campsite are easy targets. Bears quickly learn that their mere presence causes campers to move away, making these attractants easily attainable.

Campers and hikers can avoid conflicts with bears by maintaining a clean campsite and storing food, garbage and aromatic items, such as toothpaste and other toiletries, out of reach of bears – and not in your tent.

If car camping, keep all food and coolers in a building or vehicle with the windows closed. If camping at a remote site, bring rope to properly hang these items, or use a bear-resistant canister, available for rent at no charge at all White Mountain National Forest Ranger Districts offices. For information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/whitemountain.

"We want to emphasize the importance of proper food storage, so that not only you, but future campers to the campground, will have a positive experience," said Marianne Leberman, White Mountain National Forest Recreation Program leader. "Be considerate of future campers and wildlife, since it only takes one food reward to encourage bears to return to the source."

You can help by following the guidelines at www.wildnh.com/wildlife/somethings-bruin.html.

Fish and Game recommends that people take these actions to reduce the chances of a bear visiting your home or campsite:

? Stop all bird feeding by April 1, or as soon as snow melts.

? 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.

? Don’t leave food, grease or garbage unsecured around campsites.

? Store food and coolers in a closed vehicle or secured area while camping.

? Finally, never intentionally feed bears!

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.

Submitted by
New Hampshire Fish and Game Department