Feeding Bears

Jun 17, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

Earlier this week, a couple in Stoddard were arrested by Fish and Game officials after being caught hand-feeding bears.

The ban on deliberately feeding bears is part of a Fish and Game rule enacted in 2006.

Richard Whitney, who has now been charged twice with violating the ban on feeding bears, argued that feeding bears healthy foods in isolated locations can keep them from foraging in more densely-populated areas, particularly in the spring and fall when natural food sources are harder to come by. The practice is called “diversionary feeding”.

Officials express concern that activities that acclimate bears to people can lead the animals to encroach on residential areas, posing a threat to other humans or pets.

“In addition to conditioning the bears to see human residences as a place to find food, Whitney and Sherman are creating an uncomfortable and potentially unsafe situation for their neighbors. The public’s safety is at risk when bears lose their fear of humans. In addition, disregard for the law cannot be tolerated,” said Fish and Game Lt. David Walsh.

Feeding bears is banned in New York and Rhode Island, but no rule against the practice exists in Maine, Vermont or Massachusetts.

Whitney’s own property consists of 81 acres, abutting an additional reserve of thousands of acres of wilderness.

The Legislature has not acted directly on the issue, and there is no current move to change the Fish and Game rule.

Do you think Fish and Game should reverse its ban on feeding bears? Leave a comment and have your say.

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