Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Take Down Your Feeder Day

Today is take down your bird feeder day here in New Hampshire. This is not April Fool's. Black bears are coming out of their dens by now and are hungry, having lost 25 to 40 % of their body weight while in their winter den. Sunflower seeds are so tasty for black bears, among other things that they might find in your yard - meat in compost piles, pet food, garbage left out overnight, scraps on a grill.

Seeing a black bear in your yard might be a cool thing, but if that bear gets into feeders and other people food it can become a nuisance bear. Nuisance bears do not live as long as other bears that stick to berries, beechnuts, grubs, ants, and other insects. But there is not much of the wild foods around this time of year so they go for the easy pickings. I heard that a bear once picked off some fresh blueberry pies from a cabin window. Some of their favorite spring food is fresh green growth -- skunk cabbage, jack in the pulpit, grasses and sedges. You can see why they might prefer a pie.

The population of black bears (our only bear) in New Hampshire is at 4,800 and stable. They've expanded statewide in the last few decades, along with other forest-dwelling animals, as forests continue to mature in the state. To keep the bears healthy and wild NH Fish and Game recommends the following:
  • put feeders away by April 1
  • clean up spilled birdseed
  • avoid putting out garbage at night
  • don't leave pet food outside at night
  • avoid meat scraps in the compost pile
  • clean and store grill after each use
  • don't feed the bears
  • don't have your picture taken with a bear (I added this one)
Oh, and don't forget to remove your ice fishing bobhouse from the ice today. If you haven't done it by now you are an April fool.


  1. And of course:
    * no pies cooling on the window sill

  2. Oh yes, I should have included that one in the list!

  3. "Ice fishing bobhouse" Minnesota we call them fish houses, and they had to be off the ice a month ago. I always find regional differences in language interesting, and a reminder our world hasn't gotten too homogenized, yet.

    I have had feeders ravaged by bears before. Kind of a scary thing to wake up to in the middle of the night.