Hungry black bear invading Vermont backyards - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Hungry black bear invading Vermont backyards

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Courtesy: Gillian Stippa Courtesy: Gillian Stippa

Just over a week ago, Brian Shafford was spending a regular day at his West Brattleboro home, when all of a sudden: "I looked up and here's a small bear just walking right in our front yard," he said.

Vermont Fish and Wildlife officials tell us a young black bear has been spotted around Brattleboro and in surrounding areas. There have been multiple reports from people who say they've seen the bear in their backyards or on their decks.

"Normally a bear would be quite wary, especially when it approaches people and their homes, but this bear is actually seeking people's backyards as a source of food," said Forrest Hammond, the black bear project leader with Vt. Fish and Wildlife.

Fish and Wildlife says this bear was actually found denning with its mother and a sibling under a porch in Connecticut this past January. They were relocated and given distinctive ear tags, before reportedly wandering into Vermont.

"First we're asking the people in Southeastern Vermont to actually checked their backyards and identify anything that might attract a bear and cause them to come into your yard looking for food," Hammond said.

Once a bear starts going after bird feeders and garbage, officials say that's progressive behavior and it gets worse over time. Things usually don't end well for the bear if this continues. That's why they want the public to bear-proof their yards by securing garbage and putting away bird feeders. It's something Shafford already does, which is why he thinks the bear didn't bother him, his dog Roxie, or his property and continued on its way.

"No, no, no," he said. "Not aggressive."

Still, Fish and Wildlife tells us you can't be too careful if you spot the bear and be prepared to use your vocal cords if necessary.

"The easiest thing to do would be to actually holler at the bear and tell it to leave," Hammond advised.

Shafford says he loves living in an area that's wild enough to have bears; he just wants the public to be educated and doesn't want the bear coming on his property and bothering his chickens.

Officials warn against banging pots and pans; that can give the bear a negative experience. The bear's tag is red and has the number 024. Fish and Wildlife asks you to contact them if you see the bear. Click here to file a bear incident report on their website.

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