LAKE GEORGE — A surge in bear complaints in the Lake George area led to the state Department of Environmental Conservation issuing a warning Wednesday to people about bringing in bird feeders and securing garbage cans.
The agency is moving to an “enforcement mode” that could result in tickets for property owners who don’t take down bird feeders or secure garbage cans, DEC spokesman David Winchell said.
He said the DEC has been getting numerous calls about bears causing trouble, and Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said residents around Flat Rock Road had reported a small bear getting into bird feeders in recent weeks. Winchell said complaints focused on the area of town between Route 9 and Hearthstone Point State Campground, and multiple bears appear to be to blame.
“It’s not uncommon. The dry weather really hurt the berry crop this year,” Dickinson said.
That will prompt DEC staff to move from educational efforts to enforcement, with written warnings and tickets issued to those who don’t secure bear food sources.
“It’s gotten to the point where the amount of nuisance calls have increased significantly,” Winchell said.
Winchell said the DEC is dealing with a surge in bear complaints across the Adirondacks this summer, stemming from a lack of food in the woods because of dry conditions in early summer. The wild berry crops and mast crops are down in much of the region.
So far this year the DEC has dealt with 350 bear complaints in Region 5, which includes Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties as well as the rest of the Adirondacks, compared to 117 for all of 2017.
DEC regulation prohibits the indirect or incidental feeding of black bears. To avoid indirect or incidental feeding of black bears (and a written warning and ticket), residents and businesses should follow these directions:
- Eliminate or secure any material that may attract bears.
- Properly store and manage garbage by storing it securely and using bear resistant garbage containers with secure lids, and prevent garbage container overflow. Keep surrounding area clear of trash, no trash outside of containers, and place garbage to the curb in the morning of pickup, not the night before.
- Do not feed animals such as pets outside, eliminate bird feeders and store bird food securely.
- Prevent bears from obtaining human food by cleaning food grills after every use and storing them securely and keeping refrigerators and freezers in a secure place. Coolers left outside may attract bears.
Winchell said those who have commercial garbage pickup should keep their cans in sheds or garages until the morning of pickup and seek out bear-proof trash receptacles if possible.
Those who receive tickets for feeding bears can be fined up to $250 and a jail sentence of up to 15 days.