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DEC offers black bear tips

July 13, 2018
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer ( , Lake Placid News

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has offered recommendations on avoiding conflicts with bears, including in the backcountry where at least one bear has been a repeated issue this year.

Since local berry crops aren't quite ripe and young bears are setting out on their own, the DEC said this time of year is often when bear conflicts happen. The department said in a press release that most nuisance bears are the result of actions taken by humans.

"In recent weeks, DEC has received numerous reports of bears entering suburban areas, breaking into buildings and vehicles, and approaching camp sites in efforts to obtain food," the release said. "Bears will take advantage of anything they consider a food source as they travel, adding to the potential for conflict. The most common attractants are poorly stored garbage, bird feeders, messy grills, and pet food left outdoors. Once a bear finds these foods, it will often continue to return to the area."

The department said that when bears get used to the above food sources, it can cause a host of other problems.

"Bears that frequent developed areas are at greater risk of being hit by cars, illegally shot by people that believe them to be a threat, or euthanized if the bear becomes a real threat," the DEC said. "In addition, bears that become accustomed to obtaining food near human spaces will sometimes break into homes or vehicles to get food."

To avoid conflicts at home, the DEC says garbage and grills should be secured or kept inside, bird feeders should be taken down and pets should not be fed outside.

The DEC warned in its weekly backcountry conditions report recently that a bear with an ear tag had been approaching hikers and campers in the High Peaks. DEC Forest Ranger Scott van Laer, who patrols the High Peaks, asked campers to avoid the Slant Rock area due to the bear activity there.

At campsites, campers should keep their sites clean and pick up immediately after cooking. All cooking equipment, food and coolers should be kept in the locked trunk of a car, and "NEVER keep food, coolers, or scented items in tents when camping."

For backcountry users, the DEC says to pack the minimal amount of food needed and to cook and eat away from campsites. Bear canisters are required when camping in the Eastern High Peaks, and the DEC "strongly recommends" them in the rest of the Adirondacks as well. They can be rented from places like The Mountaineer gear store in Keene Valley and at the Adirondack Mountain Club's High Peaks Information Center at Heart Lake.

If you do encounter a bear, the DEC says to remain calm and back away slowly, being sure not to run. For more information, go to



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