EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

March 17, 2010

Bears are emerging from hibernation and they're hungry

CONCORD — Early spring-like conditions across New Hampshire have caused bears to get a jump start on spring.¬�

Recent bear activity has been mostly concentrated in the more southern part of New Hampshire, but reports from the entire state are likely in the coming weeks.¬�Spring marks the period when bears emerge from dens and begin foraging to replenish fat reserves depleted during the long winter denning period.¬�

Natural foods are scarce this time of year, so it is critical for homeowners to take action now to reduce the chances of attracting bears. Denning behavior by bears is primarily a response to periods of food shortage.¬�Bear foods are scare from late fall until spring, which coincides with the typical bear denning season in New Hampshire.¬�

Weather also plays a role, as this behavior allows bears to conserve energy during the winter months.¬�With the lack of snow and recent warming temperatures, it is likely bears will become active earlier this spring.

"To prevent attracting a bear to your residence, it is essential to take down your bird feeders and put them away until next winter, despite the fact that the recommended deadline for taking down feeders is nearly a month away," said Andy Timmins, bear project leader for New Hampshire Fish and Game.¬�"This isn't about bird feeders or bird watching, it's about the safety and well-being of black bears.¬�Bears that frequent homes for easy pickings often have a shorter life expectancy than bears that don't.¬�Take down your feeders and save a bear."

Last year, 681 bear complaints were documented in New Hampshire.¬�More than half of these complaints were related to bears causing property damage.

"Most of these incidents were caused by the presence of birdseed or garbage at the residence and could have been easily avoided if these attractants were removed," Timmins said.

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