One bear sighting in a residential neighborhood would have been enough to prompt concern, but Capital District residents have reported two incidents in the past week.
One was in Guilderland and another was in the Geyser Crest neighborhood in Saratoga Springs, near Hathorn and Hutchins roads. The sightings have prompted local police to remind residents about the primary reason why bears get particularly brazen: Food!
To minimize the chances that a bear will wander into your yard looking for its next snack, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has made simple instructions. The key is to take all temptation off their plate so that the bears will not feel emboldened to track food to residential neighborhoods and backyards.
Garbage cans, barbecue drippings and bird feeders are the biggest culprits when it comes to exciting the nose of a bear, especially in summertime when hot temperatures or droughts can prompt bears to expand their food-hunting territory.
Here are the most effective measures the DEC states that homeowners can take:
Remove Bird Feeders on April 1 & Don’t Resume Using Until November 30
Bird feed such as suet and seeds are a very strong attraction for bears, even if they can’t reach it. (And you’d be surprised at how well they climb!) Use bird baths and colorful native gardens to attract birds instead.
Avoid Turning Your Garbage Into a Bear-Tempting Feast
Garbage is even more attractive to bears than bird feeders and should always be kept in sealed garbage cans inside a sturdy building like a garage or shed. Anything with an odor can attract a bear. If you have a garbage pickup service, avoid bringing your trash out to the curb the night before and try to take it out just before your scheduled pickup. And if you are thinking of burning that trash instead, don’t. Not only is burning garbage illegal, it may actually be ‘more’ attractive to bears.
Finally, consider purchasing bear resistant trash cans with tightly sealed, locking lids. These have been used to help eliminate human-bear conflicts throughout the country.
Take Care With Grills, Pet Food & Other Tempting Treats
Remember how good that steak smelled while it was grilling? The grease and the odors live on and can tempt bears into your yard long after you’ve finished grilling. To remove the temptation, remove the grease can from your grill after every use. You can also burn residual odors off the grill by turning it to high for several minutes after you are done cooking.
Do you typically feed your pet(s) outside? Don’t. Any leftover food – or even an empty dish that has tempting odors and a few crumbs – can attract a bear. This also applies to food you provide for any wildlife. If you are putting out food for your favorite neighborhood cat, bunny, chipmunk or squirrel — you are also putting food out for the bears.
Have an extra refrigerator or freezer? Is it on a porch, enclosed or otherwise? Try to find a different spot for the appliances as believe it or not, bears can smell what’s inside and will have no trouble at all getting through a screen to discover the source of their temptation.