“Don’t feed the bear,” South Burlington Police Chief Shawn Burke is cautioning residents. Last week the first sightings of what police believe to be a black bear were reported near Dorey Road. Since then, reports, video and photos have surfaced showing the bear strolling through an approximately 1-square-mile residential area around Nowland Farm Drive and as far west as Overlook Street, according to Burke.
“Every spring, in cities like South Burlington or Burlington … you get the bear who rolls in because they’re hungry,” Burke said. “What bears do, by nature, is identify a reliable food source and then hang out.”
The police chief cited bird feeders, trash left outdoors and compost bins as prime food sources for bears. He recommended residents keep their trash indoors until collection day, take down bird feeders and bury the most fragrant, savory bits of compost deeper inside bins. “When the bear starts getting hungry it’ll move on,” he said.
In the event that a resident has a face-to-face encounter with the animal, Burke recommends the individual make noise to frighten it while they head indoors. “These are not pets,” he said, adding people should not stop to photograph the bear.
While there is no hard evidence, Burke believes the recent sightings are all the same animal.
According to the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife black bears are “relatively shy animals and are seldom seen by people.” They tend to live in wild areas and avoid people, save for when natural food supplies are low. Black bears are omnivores, meaning they will eat both meat and plants. Their “major food sources include seeds and insects, but the black bear is an opportunist and will eat just about anything that crosses its path,” the Fish and Wildlife website notes.
To learn more about black bears in Vermont visit: vtfishandwildlife.com/learn-more/vermont-critters/mammals/black-bear.