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Bears bopping around Hopkinton looking for a quick snack from bird feeders 

  • Bird feeders are attractants for bears, as seen in these photos taken in Emily and Greg Sagris' backyard in Hopkinton this week. —Courtesy photo

  • Bird feeders are attractants for bears, as seen in these photos taken in Emily and Greg Sagris' backyard in Hopkinton this week. —Courtesy photo

  • Bird feeders are attractants for bears, as seen in these photos taken in Emily and Greg Sagris' backyard in Hopkinton this week. —Courtesy photo

  • Bird feeders are attractants for bears, as seen in these photos taken in Emily and Greg Sagris' backyard in Hopkinton this week. —Courtesy photo

  • Bird feeders are attractions for bears, as seen in these photos taken in Emily and Greg Sagris’s backyard in Hopkinton this week. Four bears can be seen lurking in the yard above. The state Fish and Game Department sent out a warning to residents recently concerning bird feeders and how it’s time to take them down. Courtesy photos


Monitor staff
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

It might seem like spring has just barely begun, but bird feeders should be put away soon, because they attract a larger, hairier clientele.

The state’s Fish and Game Department has been warning the public to take their bird feeders down since mid-March, when bears started to become more active after their hibernation. March 31 used to be the traditional deadline for ending winter bird feeding, but the increasingly earlier arrival of warmer temperatures makes a definitive deadline harder to pin down, Fish and Game reported.

“The strong spring sunshine, longer days and warmer temperatures stimulate many wildlife species, including hungry bears,” Andrew Timmins, Bear Project Leader for the state’s Fish and Game Department, stated in March. “As bears start to become more active, let it serve as a reminder that it is time to put the birdfeeders away until next fall.”

Bird feeders were the direct cause of 25 percent of bear-human conflicts reported last year. In addition to bird feeders, other things that attracted bears included unprotected chickens or other poultry at 23 percent, and unsecured garbage cans or dumpsters at 38 percent.

Timmins warned to not wait until a bear appears at your bird feeder to take action, because by then, it’s already too late to discourage foraging activities.

“A single food reward will cause the bear to return and continue to search the area for food,” Timmins said.

And why wouldn’t a bear return for food? Especially when black oil sunflower seeds – high in fat and protein and one of a bear’s favorite foods – are commonly used in bird feeders.

“Natural bear foods during spring and summer are generally high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat,” Fish and Game said. “As a result, it does not make sense, from the standpoint of energy, for a bear to ignore sunflower seeds.”

Here are some suggestions from Fish and Game to prevent bears from frequenting your backyard:

Clean up any spilled birdseed and dispose of it in the trash.

Secure all garbage in airtight containers inside a garage or adequate storage area.

Avoid putting meat or other food scraps in your compost pile.

Don’t leave pet food dishes outside overnight.