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Division of Natural Resources Warns: Don't Feed the Bears!!!
The Division of Natural Resources cautions all West Virginia residents that the feeding of black bears is a violation of state law, as well as a misguided disservice to our state animal, according to Christopher Ryan, Black Bear Project Leader for the Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section.
“It is understandable that some people will illegally set out food to get a glimpse of this magnificent animal,” Ryan said. “However, too often these actions regrettably result in the death of the bear. Bears that wander near residential areas in search of food are less likely to stay if they do not find anything to eat.”
Bear populations have increased and expanded across the state in the last 10 years. “We have been receiving numerous calls concerning bear sightings from areas that have not had bears in the recent past. Bears have been reported in all 55 counties and we have received many reports of sows with cubs in the northern and western portion of the state.”
Bears often become habituated to handouts and lose their fear of humans. When bears lose this fear they resort to raiding garbage, outdoor freezers, and other food sources associated with people. Unfortunately, if these activities are repeated, Division of Natural Resources personnel are forced to humanely destroy the offender for safety reasons.
“Unintentional feeding of black bears is a major concern to the Division of Natural Resources,” Ryan said. “People need to secure garbage in bear-proof facilities and place trash out for collection on the morning of pick-up. Residents should remove all outside pet food at night, and bird feeders should be taken down, cleaned, and stored until late fall to further discourage feeding around human habitation.”
Feeding of any wildlife should be avoided for numerous reasons including but not limited to disease transmission, increased predation, habitat destruction around the feeding site, ethical concerns, and the animal’s overall health. Following these practical and common sense recommendations will reduce bear-human conflicts and assure that more of the state's animals will remain wild.
For more information on how to discourage nuisance bears or anyone experiencing bear problems should contact the local DNR District Office.
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© 2003 West Virginia Division of Natural Resources