Seeing black bears in their natural surroundings is exciting. But when bears venture into human territory, problems can occur and bears often pay the price.
Human-Bear Conflicts: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear
People often encourage bears to come out of the forest by providing food without realizing it. When bears become used to these food sources and have frequent contact with humans they become more dependent on human foods and less wary. This is bad news for the bears. This puts bears at increased risk to vehicle collisions and of being killed in defense of property.
The most common sources of food that attract bears are: pet food, bird feeders, barbecue grills, garbage, household trash containers, open dumpsters, and campsites with accessible food and food wastes.
Purposely feeding a bear is not just bad for the bear, it’s also illegal.
If you see a bear in a residential area or you encounter an aggressive bear, please contact the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.
Protecting Your Home and Property
Vermonters must take reasonable measures to protect their property from bears before lethal force can be taken. Some of these measures include:
- Keep chickens and honeybees secure within an electric fence or other bear-proof enclosure.
- Never feed bears, deliberately or accidentally.
- Feed your pets indoors.
- Feed birds from December to March only.
- Store trash in a secure place. Trash cans alone are not enough!
The Fish & Wildlife Department will not reimburse claimants for bear damage to livestock, fruit, or bees. Farmers will be reimbursed as long as their land is not posted against hunting.
Persons suffering bear damage should contact the nearest Vermont Fish & Wildlife office or local state game warden prior to taking any control action on their own. Fish & Wildlife personnel will recommend appropriate measures or control strategies that can lessen the problem.
It is your responsibility to avoid attracting bears. Bears are wild animals that belong in their natural habitat—the forest.
Learn More about Living with Black Bears
- Recommendations for Human—Black Bear Encounters
- Living with Black Bears FAQs
- Composting in Bear Country
- Bear Proof Your Garbage | PDF
- Bear-resistant Trash Container Manufacturers
- Bear-resistant Garbage Can Retrofit | PDF
- Living with Bears - A Practical Guide to Bear Country
- Bear Necessities: Living with Black Bears Videos
Bears, Bees and Electric Fencing
- Houndsman Bee Damage Brochure | PDF
- Protect Your Property with a Zap
- Video on Installing an Electric Fence for Bears
- Video on Using Electric Fencing to Secure Your Outdoor Attractants
- Get Bear Smart Society - Electric Fencing
- Electric Bear Fencing Supplies