Human-Bear Encounters: Keeping it Safe

Black bear photographed by Antonio ZacarolliAntonio Zacarolli, age 10, was quick with his camera, photographing this black bear foraging on Spring Street in Copake Lake (July 8, 2018).

About 15% of the black bears in New York State live in the Hudson Valley. Bears spend a great deal of their time looking for food, which can bring them into contact with humans. Bears are intelligent, and they learn from experience. If an activity results in food, they will repeat that activity. If an encounter with a human doesn't result in a reward (food), they will not have any reason to have contact with humans.

NEVER FEED BEARS OR LEAVE YOUR GARBAGE UNSECURED
Restrict bird feeding to the months when bears are in their dens --- from December 1 to March 31. Feeding bears creates human-bear conflicts. When bears learn to obtain food from humans, they can become bold and aggressive. It is illegal to intentionally feed bears in NYS.

IF YOU ENCOUNTER A BEAR: Tips from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
  • Never approach, surround, or corner a bear. Bears aggressively defend themselves when they feel threatened. Be especially cautious around cubs as mother bears are very protective.
  • Never run from a bear. Stay calm, speak in a loud and calm voice, slowly back away and leave the area.
  • From a safe distance, make loud noises by shouting or banging pots to scare the bear away.
  • Once the bear leaves, remove all attractants such as bird seed, garbage, and pet food.
  • Ask your neighbors to remove attractants.


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