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Watch out for Foraging Bears in Hyperphagia Dealing With Acorn Scarcity

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Wildlife officers in Connecticut are warning residents in opposition to feeding bears significantly over the subsequent few months because the animals step up their hunt for the additional meals they are going to want earlier than hibernating for the winter.

In line with the Connecticut Division of Vitality and Environmental Safety (DEEP) throughout fall, bears forage for calorie-packed nuts and seeds for as much as 20 hours a day in a race in opposition to the clock. This annual power-eating marathon known as hyperphagia. Throughout hyperphagia, bears must eat 20,000 energy a day, which is 10 instances the energy they usually eat.

Their aim is to placed on as a lot weight and insulating fats as attainable earlier than delivering for the winter. However it’s harmful for each bears and people if people make it straightforward for bears to search out meals.

“Black bears ought to by no means be fed – both deliberately or unintentionally,” mentioned Jenny Dickson, DEEP wildlife division director. “Bears which are drawn to houses by simply accessible meals lose their worry of people. Bears which are rewarded by straightforward meals spend extra time in neighborhoods and close to individuals, growing dangers to public security, the chance of property harm, and the likelihood that the bears could also be hit and killed by automobiles.”

The state has already tracked a document variety of bears breaking into houses, with 69 incidents this 12 months far surpassing the earlier document of 45 in 2020.

Dickson provides that it takes many hours of foraging every day for bears to search out 20,000 energy’ price of nuts and berries. However only one chook feeder stuffed with sunflower seed or one rubbish container with leftovers can reward a bear with a day’s price of energy for lower than an hour’s work, making human-provided meals much more tempting.

The bears face a specific problem this 12 months. In line with state agricultural consultants, Connecticut skilled a widespread acorn crop failure on this season. Fall acorns are an vital meals supply for black bears and the shortage of acorns this 12 months will trigger bears to search for different meals sources, together with human-associated meals, which officers fear may add to rising public security considerations related to their persevering with inhabitants growth.

The black bear inhabitants in Connecticut is estimated to be larger than 1,000, and bears may be present in any of the state’s 169 cities.

Because the bear inhabitants continues to develop, and bears turn into more and more meals conditioned, officers are involved that conflicts with people will proceed to extend. It is a drawback as a result of food-conditioned bears pose a larger danger to themselves in addition to public security, and sometimes trigger extra property harm to homes, vehicles, pets, and livestock.

With two months remaining within the 12 months, DEEP mentioned it has already tracked a document variety of bears breaking into houses, with 69 incidents this 12 months far surpassing the earlier document of 45 in 2020.

Greatest Practices

DEEP has a number of greatest practices for residents to cut back the chance of an encounter with a bear, accessible on-line on DEEP’s “Residing with Black Bears” web site. DEEP has additionally created a video incorporating many of those greatest practices.

Rule #1 is to make each dwelling and yard a no-food-zone for bears. A very powerful step is to take away meals attractants, reminiscent of chook seed and unsecured rubbish.

One other tip is to oversee canines always when outdoors. Canines needs to be stored on a brief leash. A roaming canine is likely to be perceived as a menace to a bear or its cubs from her.

Within the uncommon occasion when a bear seems to be aggressive towards individuals, residents ought to instantly contact DEEP’s 24-hour dispatch line at 860-424-3333.

Bear sightings reported by the general public present worthwhile data to help DEEP in monitoring modifications within the black bear inhabitants. Anybody who observes a black bear in Connecticut is inspired to report the sighting on DEEP’s web site or name the Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011. Info on the presence or absence of ear tags, together with tag colour and numbers, is especially worthwhile.

Sources: DEEP and BearWise.

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