This year, Vermont wildlife officials have recorded over 700 encounters between black bears and humans in the state—a new record. Kyle Isherwood, a state game warden, reports that the state receives 2-3 reports per week of bears entering homes to look for food, whereas that number used to be 2-3 entries per year. Why the increase? Vermont Public Radio explores some reasons, and you can listen to the program here.
Some takeaways: Vermont’s black bear population is estimated at between 5,000 and 6,000 animals, according to the most recent surveys—a number that has held fairly steady over the last decade, according to wildlife biologist Jaclyn Comeau. A century ago, Vermont black bears only numbered around 1,000, but the population has increased as more farmland has reverted to forest.
In the radio broadcast, Comeau points out that bears are long-lived, smart, possess a remarkable sense of small, and teach their cubs where to find food. Once they locate a food source, they will return to that spot for years. She adds that improperly secured garbage, bird seed/suet, and chicken feed are major factors in bear-human encounters, so homeowners should take steps to eliminate or protect these attractants.