Every year New York residents are reminded to take down bird feeders to avoid bear conflicts.

Bird feeders can attract more than just birds once spring arrives. That's when the bears are coming out of hibernation looking for food.

One Cazenovia found one at the bird feeder in his backyard. Rather than trying to scare it away, he's accused of shooting it instead.

READ MORE: Beware! Black Bear Strolls Through Central New York Neighborhood

Credit - Lisa Davis/Think Stock/Canva
Credit - Lisa Davis/Think Stock/Canva

Unlawfully Killing a Bear

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation was called in to investigate after a complaint came in of someone killing the bear.

"After an investigation, the ECO determined that the homeowner, 72-year-old John Foley, unlawfully killed a bear on his property because it was eating from a bird feeder."

Foley was charged with taking a bear other than permitted by Environmental Conservation Law, an unclassified misdemeanor.

READ MORE: Farmer Rescues Bear Cub in Upstate New York Field

BirdImages from Getty Images Signature
BirdImages from Getty Images Signature

Where Are the Bears

There's a minimum of 6,000 to 8,000 bears in New York State. Where do most of them call home?

50-60% inhabit the Adirondack region
30-35% inhabit the the Catskill region
10-15% inhabit the central-western region.

Bears are now well established in many other areas, including the Tug Hill, Hudson Valley, and across the Southern Tier.

READ MORE: Hiker's Terrifying Run-In With Bear in New York Mountains

GeorgePeters from Getty Images Signature
GeorgePeters from Getty Images Signature

Tips to Avoid Bears

The DEC has tips on what to do if you happen to run into a bear.


  • Use noise to scare bears away: Yell, clap, or bang pots.
  • Stay calm: Walk slowly and speak in a loud and calm voice.
  • Leave slowly: Cautiously back away from the bear and leave the area.
  • If a bear charges you: Stand your ground. If you have bear spray, dispense directly at the bear.
  • If a bear makes contact with you: Fight back with anything at hand (knife, stick, rocks, or fists).

READ MORE: Teen Shoots First Bear & It's a Doozy at 485 Pounds


  • Approach, surround, or corner a bear: Bears aggressively defend themselves when they feel threatened. Be especially cautious around cubs as mother bears are very protective.
  • Run from a bear: They may chase.
  • Throw your backpack or food at an approaching bear: This will only encourage bears to approach and "bully" you to get food. By teaching a bear to approach humans for food, you are endangering yourself, other campers/residents, and the bears.

READ MORE: You'll Bare-ly Believe How Close Hunter Gets to Bear in New York

Credit - Kaitlyn Moon
Credit - Kaitlyn Moon

To Avoid Bears Coming Onto Your Property:

  • Take down bird feeders in April. Bird feed such as suet and seeds are a very strong attraction for bears, even if they can't reach them.
  • Clean your grill. Turn the grill on high for several minutes after you are done cooking to burn residual odors.
  • Lock up your trash. Garbage is extremely attractive to bears. It should always be kept in sealed garbage cans inside a building like a garage or shed. Anything with an odor can attract a bear.
  • Do not feed your pets outside. Leftover food or even an empty dish can attract a bear.
  • Do not have refrigerators or freezers outside or on porches. Bears can smell what is inside.
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If You're Camping:

  • Throw out all your trash and recyclables.
  • Lock up your coolers and food. Store food in either the trunk of your car or in the cab of your truck. Keep windows shut and food and coolers out of sight.
  • NEVER keep food, coolers, or scented items in your tent.
  • Treat all toiletries as food items. Toiletry products are heavily scented and are as attractive to bears as food.
  • Clean up after all meals immediately. Keep grills, pots, pans, cooking utensils, and wash basins clean when not in use.
  • Do not put grease, garbage, plastic diapers, cans, bottles, or other refuse into the fireplace. These items do not properly burn and will attract bears with their odors.
  • Always remember when exploring the wilderness - you're in their home. Be vigilant and stay safe.

Bear Destroys Vehicle in Search of Food

This is why you don't leave food anywhere bears can smell it. Even in your car.

Gallery Credit: Credit - Polly McAdams

Bears from around the world

Gallery Credit: Randy Bogden, Getty Images


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