bear blog doodle

So…, did you know that bears like…bird food? The seed feed to be exact—a bit unexpected in noticing the large mass of a bear! Studies around the world heavily support this bear behavior. “Wildlife biologist Rick Sinnott of Anchorage, Alaska said bears will probably eat anything birds will eat at a feeder.”

Black bears are good climbers and problem-solvers. They are attracted to bird feeders and bird food and will tear down feeders to get at the seeds. Bears will also shake trees to empty feeders or knock them down.

But anyway, how’d this fascinating topic come about? A local NJ resident walks in to Gates Flag and Banner and poses a common question, but for a reason that took us all here by surprise. He needed a bracket to replace the one that a neighborhood bear kindly broke in efforts to settle its angry tummy; with a light snack I might add. The customer actually uses his residential kit flag pole to hang bird seed. Seems like the bear thought that was a really good idea—and the rest brought that local resident to Gates’ front door. No problem, we’re more than happy to assist!

Thanks for sharing your story, here’s some tips to help you and others avoid that hungry visitor.

Sinnott recommends that in the summertime, folks living in urban bear country put away bird feeders and enjoy birds in other ways. Replacing feeders with nest boxes and birdbaths are good examples.

Bears—and birds—have plenty of wild food available in summer and should eat natural foods. Take down bird feeders in mid-April to keep bears out of your yard.

Polly Hessing, a wildlife biologist with Alaska Fish and Game in Juneau, estimated that a quarter to almost half the calls in years before have been bear and bird feeder related.

Hessing said in some ways, bears think like dogs. “Positive reinforcements such as food make a big impression. Bear studies show it’s difficult to change their behavior. This is straight out of classical conditioning, B.F. Skinner. Animals try really hard before they give up. We’re the same way. The bottom line is don’t get them started. If they do find food, it’s a reward and really increases the chances they’ll return.”


Contents from this article can be found in the June 2004 edition of Alaska Fish and Wildlife News

For more info, follow link Bird Feeders and Bears

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