Responding to the growing number of conflicts between bears and people across New York State, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today (January 21, 2011) announced a new state regulation that prohibits the feeding of black bears.
As black bear numbers have increased significantly in recent years and bears have become more widespread throughout New York, the number of interactions between bears and people has grown, often resulting from the intentional or incidental feeding of bears.
Previously, DEC prohibited the intentional feeding of bears in proximity to certain locations. In an effort to reduce bear habituation to human-supplied foods and future human-bear conflicts, DEC’s new regulation prohibits both incidental and intentional feeding of bears statewide.
Specifically, the regulation bans intentional feeding of black bears, and, after previous written notice from DEC, also prohibits incidental or indirect feeding of black bears through food attractants such as garbage, refuse or bird seed. The regulation grants DEC the authority to require removal of these and other food attractants when bears become problematic.
DEC generally encourages discontinuing bird feeding activity in the Spring when bears emerge from their dens and natural foods for bears are not abundant and natural food for birds are becoming more available.
The Notice of Adoption of the new regulation prohibiting black bear feeding is available at www.dos.state.ny.us/info/register/2011/jan12/pdfs/rules.pdf .
More information about black bears can be found on the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6960.html or by viewing DEC’s video “Living with New York Black Bears” which is available in public and school libraries throughout the state.