Bears in town

Nepveu Bears have been roaming downtown Morrisville because they’ve found food there, and police are urging people to stay away from them.

Bryan Nepveu reports on his photo: “I was on the sidewalk looking down on him in the gully on Congress Street as he looked for food. Based on the sounds I heard from a safer — note that I said safer — distance, he was finding it. I was more than content to leave him be.”

A family of bears is roaming around downtown Morrisville, and Vermont Fish and Wildlife is asking village residents to help minimize the danger.

“A female bear with three cubs has been repeatedly getting into garbage containers left outside and bird feeders in downtown Morrisville,” said Vermont State Game Warden Jeremy Schmid. “We are asking everyone in the area to help by removing all bird feeders and securing garbage containers and not putting them out until the morning of pickup.

“So far this bear has not gotten into any serious trouble, but residents can help by removing food sources that would attract her so she doesn’t cause problems that could result in a sad ending.”

Schmid advises buttoning up the house, locking doors and shutting downstairs windows at night, so the bear won’t have an easy entrance.

Motion-activated lights and alarms can also deter bears from wandering too close to homes.

Police have had to steer people away from the bears; photo-takers on Howard Street were getting too close to be safe, and police didn't want anyone mauled.

“We have had success in other communities in getting a bear to change its behavior,” said bear project leader Forrest Hammond, “but it takes everyone pulling together to remove the attractants for it to work.

“If the bear continues to receive human foods, her behavior will only get worse — perhaps to the point she is a threat to human safety.”

The Fish and Wildlife Department is asking the public to report all bear conflicts at vtfishandwildlife.com. Reporting an incident helps track problem areas and allows wardens or biologists to advise residents on ways to mitigate the problem.

Residents are reminded that it is illegal to feed bears in Vermont.

For more information on living with Vermont’s bears: bit.ly/livingwithvtbears.

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