NYS DEC Proposes Revised Bear Feeding Rules

DEC Black Bear Management Patch 2007

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has published proposed regulations to amend the DEC’s black bear feeding regulations to establish a comprehensive, state-wide prohibition on the intentional and incidental feeding of black bears in New York.

The proposed rulemaking will also update the conditions under which hounds can be trained and used to help manage bear problems.  The use of bear hounds is one of the most effective tools for reducing bear damage to farm crops, especially corn.

The DEC believes that most human-bear conflicts can be eliminated or greatly reduced by removing food attractants.  It has focused educating the public with the message “Do not feed bears.”

The DEC proposes an amendment that will  prohibit the feeding of  bears  to protect public health and safety, with exceptions allowed only in those limited instances where needed for research and management purposes. By adopting this regulation, the DEC hopes to reduce the number of problem  bears  , including situations requiring their destruction.

Comments will be accepted through June 7, 2010.

The existing regulations prohibit intentional feeding of bears based on proximity to certain locations and do not impose a comprehensive, state-wide prohibition.  The DEC has concluded that the limited prohibition creates a mixed message that needs to be corrected through rule making.

The existing regulations contain seven specific prohibitions (and two exceptions) with regard to feeding of black bears:

Prohibitions. It is a violation for any person to:
(1) feed bears within 500 feet of any occupied building (unless the building is owned or leased and occupied by that person), school, playground, paved public road, designated or established campsite, landfill, dump or municipal waste transfer site or dumpster;
(2) feed bears within 100 feet of any other building, any unpaved public road or trail, or body of water;
(3) feed bears or attempt to attract or entice a bear to take or lick anything from any part of his or her own body or another person’s body;
(4) feed a bear anything that is destructive or harmful or the carcass or any part of an animal with a contagious disease;
(5) feed a bear anything containing metal, glass, plastic, paper, cardboard or porcelain;
(6) feed bears during an open bear hunting season or during the nine days immediately prior to an open season within the area of the open season;
(7) engage in any indirect or incidental feeding of bears if the activity occurs after written notice from the department to the person responsible for such indirect and incidental feeding. Notification will be given by the department based on an analysis of the likelihood of an injury to a human, bear or other animal or of the likelihood of property damage resulting from such indirect or incidental feeding;
(8) nothing in this section is construed to prohibit the possession afield and use of up to 1.5 fluid ounces of a liquid scent or lure;
(9) nothing in this Section is construed to restrict in any way the attraction, capture or taking of black bears by the department for management or research purposes.

The proposed rules compress those seven prohibitions into two comprehensive rules with the two exceptions incorporated:

Prohibited activities. It is a violation for any person to:
(1) Feed black bears, except as authorized by section 187.2 of this Part, and except a licensed hunter may use up to 1.5 fluid ounces of a scent or lure to hunt black bears.
(2) Incidentally or indirectly feed black bears after the department has issued a written notice to the person or persons directly responsible for the incidental or indirect feeding of a black bear.

The complete proposed regulations can be read here

The existing regs are here.

The proposed regs and DEC comments can be read here

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