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Wilton cracking down on bird feeders after bear sightings

August 20, 2018 11:15 PM

WILTON – The number of bear complaints this year has more than doubled across New York State. The Department of Environmental Conservation said so far this year, it has received 1,191 bear nuisance reports statewide. In 2017 at this time, it had only received just over 500 complaints.

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"The natural food for the bears, mostly berries, just didn't ripen because there hasn't been any rain,” said Lieutenant Ben Bramlage with the New York State Conservation Police. “Over the last several weeks we got some rain, berries started to ripen and the number of nuisance complaints has dropped off a little bit."

With bears unable to find food, they then turn to residential areas. In the Town of Wilton, the DEC is now switching from educating residents on how to keep bears away, to enforcing it. The town has posted a notice from the DEC on its website saying anyone with bird feeders or other bear attractants will be given a warning.

If they fail to fix the problem, they’ll be given a ticket that could mean a $250 fine or up to 15 days in jail. The DEC said Saratoga County has 50 recorded nuisance bear complaints this year, 30 are from Wilton.

“I think a lot of it is people simply think that they don’t think that the bear is either going to come at all or that the bear won’t come back once it comes the first time,” said Lieutenant Bramlage. “However bears are incredibly intelligent. They learn very quickly where that food source is and even if the food source is removed and there’s reminisce left from a bird feeder and there’s bird seeds still on the ground, there’s a good chance that bear is going to come back.”

Some Wilton neighborhoods are buzzing with the recent sightings.

"I personally haven't seen bears, but we have some friends that live on Parkhurst and they have seen bears,” said resident Amanda Heller.

Resident Brian Strange said he’s always seen bears in the area. He even captured video of one last summer.

"The last two or three years this is how it's always been,” said Strange.

Heller said she thinks it’s a good idea, for safety purposes, that the DEC will start enforcing these rules.

“There’s so many kids and other animals and dogs, but especially the kids and going back to school and that kind of stuff because I heard they're out early morning,” Heller said.

And it’s not just bird feeders that are a problem.

“Leaving pet food outside can create a problem and absolutely moving your garbage from say your garage out to the road the night before pick up that just provides another food source,” said Bramlage.

Even if a bear has not been at your house, Bramlage said residents should still be cautious.

“That bird feeder may be helping cause a problem for your neighbors or other people in the area,” he explained.

The DEC won’t be randomly checking to see if people have bird feeders out, but if they get a complaint in a specific area several times, they’re going to look around to see what’s attracting that bear.

The DEC recommends people keep their bird feeders inside until Dec. 1.


MORE INFORMATION: DEC: Reducing human-bear conflicts | Town of Wilton info on nuisance black bears

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WNYT Staff

Copyright 2018 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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