DEC Contact: Lori Severino (518) 402-8000
March 23, 2017
DEC GIVES HOMEOWNERS GUIDANCE TO AVOID PROBLEMS WITH BEARS AND CONFLICTS WITH COYOTES
Greater chance for encounters with bears and coyotes as spring arrives in New York
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today issued guidance on how to prevent negative encounters with black bears and conflicts with coyotes as warmer spring temperatures approach.
Nearly all negative bear encounters in New York are the result of hungry bears being attracted to human food sources. The simplest way to avoid a nuisance encounter is to remove potential food sources.
New York is home to more than 6,000 bears that emerge from the winter denning period and need to replenish nutrients and body fat. To do so, bears may travel long distances to preferred habitats that vary from season to season. Bears must sometimes cross roads or pass through developed areas to find these habitat, and often find human foods readily accessible if homeowners do not take necessary precautions.
Bears can obtain necessary food from the forest but are intelligent and opportunistic animals that find and consume easily accessible foods including, but not limited to, bird feeders, garbage cans, dumpsters, barbeque grills, unsecured out-buildings, or vehicles containing food or waste. Once a bear learns to obtain food from people or certain structures, it is difficult to change the animal's behavior. These bears are more vulnerable to motor vehicle collisions in populated areas, more likely to be killed, or may become a threat to public safety.
In some cases, DEC is asked to relocate these bears. However, bear relocations are rarely effective and can be dangerous. Relocated bears often return to their original capture site, or may simply continue their bad habits at a new location. Additionally, if the circumstances that led to the original problem are not corrected, other bears may be attracted to the site and conflicts will persist.
It is dangerous and illegal to intentionally feed bears. The incidental, indirect feeding of black bears, such as with bird feeders or garbage is also unlawful.
To reduce the chance of negative black bear encounters, DEC recommends:
Coyotes are an integral part of New York’s natural ecosystem, but can also come into conflict with people if they become habituated to humans and food sources. With the onset of warmer weather, many of New York’s coyotes will set up dens for pups that will arrive this spring. Coyotes are well adapted to suburban and even urban environments, but for the most part will avoid contact with people.
The Eastern coyote is found everywhere from rural farmlands and forests to populated suburban and urban areas. In most cases, coyotes avoid people and provide many exciting opportunities for New Yorkers through observation, photography, hunting, and trapping. However, if coyotes learn to associate people with food, such as garbage or pet food, they may lose their natural fear of humans and the potential for close encounters or conflicts increases.
To minimize the chance of conflicts between people and coyotes, it is important to maintain coyotes' natural fear of people. Below are recommended steps residents and visitors can take to reduce or prevent conflicts with coyotes:
o Do not feed pets outside;
o Make garbage inaccessible to coyotes and other animals;
o Fence or enclose compost piles so they are not accessible to coyotes; and
o Eliminate availability of bird seed. Concentrations of birds and rodents that come to feeders can attract coyotes. If a coyote is seen near a birdfeeder, clean up waste seed and spillage to remove the attractant.
If coyote behavior becomes threatening, report it to the local DEC office, as this may indicate that some individual coyotes have lost their fear of people and there may be a greater risk that a problem could occur. For additional information about the Eastern Coyote and preventing conflicts with coyotes, visit DEC’s website: Eastern Coyote - http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/9359.html and Coyote Conflicts - http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6971.html
To learn more about New York's black bears, visit DEC’s website or look for DEC's DVD: 'Living with New York Black Bears', available at most local public libraries in New York.
For more information about bears in your area or to report a problem with black bears, contact the nearest regional DEC office. For listings of Regional DEC Offices, visit DEC’s website.