Why New Englanders Need to Take Their Birdfeeders Down Until December
There’s nothing like setting up a nice birdfeeder in your yard and watching colorful robins, orioles, and blue jays stop by for a snack. So mark your calendar for December 1, as that’s the first day it’s safe to hang a feeder for whatever birds decide to stick it out for a New England winter.
As you may have read, the Seacoast area has been on the lookout for a family of black bears that have made themselves comfortable in backyards – and in some cases, back porches. And according to Andrew Timmins of the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department, birdfeeders are often the top culprit when it comes to unwanted bear encounters.
“Bears come into residential areas because there’s lots of quality food there,” says Timmins. “And that comes in the form of birdfeeders, unsecured garbage, unprotected chickens, pet food left outside, those types of things.”
In fact, Timmins recommends that New Hampshire residents take their birdfeeders down from April 1 until December 1 each year as a preventative measure. “The one that most people feed is the black-oil sunflower seed,” he explains, “which is just very nutritious for any wildlife species" (including, perhaps, the bobcats seen not far from the black bears).
A point Timmins wanted to emphasize is not the “danger” bears pose to humans, but rather, their typically contentious relationship with another species: dogs.
“Bears do not come into yards and chase dogs or go after dogs,” he says. “What can happen is, if you have an aggressive dog that will chase the bear, one of two things may happen: that bear may climb a tree, or the bear may kind of square off with the dog and challenge the dog."
“When we have issues between bears and dogs, and the dog acts aggressive and goes after the bear, then the bear turns around and tries to dominate the dog, and chases the dog. And what usually happens with most of these dogs is once it feels like it’s being chased or scared, it runs right back to the owner. So then, suddenly you have a charging bear coming after a dog that’s now hiding between the owner’s legs.”
For more information on what to do if you encounter a bear, listen to Andrew Timmins’ full interview by CLICKING HERE. The interview begins at approximately 34:30.