State officials are reminding homeowners to remove from their yards bird feeders, trash cans and other items that might attract hungry bears looking for food.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has received 38 nuisance bear complaints so far this spring, primarily in the Kennebunkport-Arundel and Ellsworth-Blue Hill areas. Annually, the department handles about 500 nuisance bear complaints, with the most coming in from May to July.

“With a late spring and continued cold weather, bears are looking for food this time of year as natural foods for bears are scare,” said Jen Vashon, a bear biologist with the department. “As a result, bears will often seek accessible food in people’s backyards.”

The department suggests people remove bird feeders, trash cans, chicken coops and grills that could attract bears. A bear’s diet is primarily vegetation, but many natural foods like grass and leaves are not yet available. Bears are opportunistic carnivores and will also feed on moose calves, deer fawns and small livestock.

As backyard farming has become more popular in recent years, the department has seen an increase in complaints associated with bears feeding on small livestock, such as chickens.


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