As bears exit their winter dens, Protect Our Wildlife has released its new bear report, “Vermont Black Bears and How to Effectively Manage Conflict.”

The report is the product of a five-month-long project launched by an environmental sciences student at UVM and contributors include experts in microbiology and molecular genetics, ecology, and other experts with varied backgrounds.

The report touches on a number of matters, from possible reasons why there was such a dramatic increase in bear complaints reported to Vermont Fish & Wildlife in 2020, to simple things that people can do to prevent bear conflicts from happening in the first place. One easy thing, the report says, is to bring birdfeeders in for the season. Taking birdfeeders in at night isn’t sufficient, since spilled seed on the ground will attract hungry bears, who possess a superior sense of smell.

The 2020 bear hunt produced a record 921 bears killed, with half being female. “Vermont’s bear hunt is one of the longest in the country, including the contentious practice of using radio-collared hounds,” said Brenna Galdenzi, president of Protect Our Wildlife.

“The bear report includes research that reveals that the hunting season is not an effective tool at reducing bear conflicts. Before we choose lethal methods of bear management, we also need to consider the ethics and impact to bear families,” she said.

Bears form tight family units with the cubs staying with their mother for about a year and a half. Lethal controls disrupt a bear’s natural lifecycle, potentially leaving a cub to grow up without a mother, according to the report.

“We cannot hunt our way out of bear conflicts,” said Galdenzi. “It is on us to be good bear neighbors.”

Find the report: bit.ly/3edE6FF.

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