High Bear Activity

High Bear Activity in Eastern High Peaks, Giant Mountain, and Dix Mountain Wildernesses: Bears have been approaching hikers and campers in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, campers in the Roaring Brook Falls area and campers and climbers in the Chapel Pond area. All visitors to these areas are advised to practice proper management of food, trash, and toiletries to prevent negative encounters with bears and creating nuisance bears including:

  • Store ALL food, toiletries, and garbage in bear resistant canisters
  • Bear resistant canisters are required in the Eastern High Peaks and strongly encouraged in the Dix Mountain Wilderness
  • BEAR HANGS DO NOT WORK in this area
  • Cook and eat before dark
  • Cook away from your campsite
  • Don’t leave food unattended
  • Know what to do in a bear encounter
  • Consider carrying bear spray for close encounters with bears

Handling Human-Bear Conflicts

The first priority in human-bear conflicts is public safety. DEC evaluates every scenario to determine the severity of the situation and to identify problem animals. Roughly 80% of bear problems are resolved over the phone with some simple advice, such as that listed above. However, some situations call for DEC Wildlife staff to go afield to assess or resolve the problem. These situations include bears causing serious property damage, entering homes or buildings, or bears that are in urban/suburban settings and cannot find an escape. In such cases, DEC applies the following protocol:

  • DEC assesses the situation and provides guidance to the homeowner on how to encourage the bear out of the inappropriate setting. The majority of actions involve removing food sources that are attracting bears or excluding bears from access to such sources.
  • DEC may decide that the best course of action is to aversively condition a nuisance bear. These bears will be trapped and hazed upon release at that location in hopes of teaching the bear that obtaining food near humans is unacceptable. DEC tags bears that it handles so it can keep track of repeat offenders, which influences future decisions, should a problem bear have further encounters with people.
  • Relocation is very rarely successful, and is therefore very rarely used as a management tool. a relocated nuisance bear often travels great distances, as much as 100 miles, to return to the original site, or will seek out new human food sources in the vicinity of its relocation site. Furthermore, if the food source remains at the original location, other bears will continue to be attracted to that site.
  • Some bears repeatedly return to urban and suburban areas. As an animal becomes more comfortable in residential areas and loses its fear of humans, it may persistently seek out food sources around the community and become a more serious nuisance.
  • Euthanizing a bear is always a last resort. DEC will exhaust all possible options before making a determination that a bear is a threat to public safety.
  • Placing a black bear at an animal sanctuary is very difficult as most zoos and sanctuaries have too many bears already and will not accept more. DEC does not use this as an alternative.

DEC’s Black Bear Response Manual (PDF, 985 KB) outlines the response to various scenarios in which bears interact with people.

Remember: Bears are attracted by smells and many things smell like potential bear food. Remove the food attractant and you’ll remove the bear.