Town of Wilton New York

Nuisance Black Bears

Black Bears

NEVER FEED BEARS INTENTIONALLY. Feeding bears intentionally is illegal and a ticketable offense. Bears that obtain food from humans will continue to seek food from humans and become nuisance bears.

To reduce the potential for human-bear conflicts, DEC advises everyone residing in or visiting bear country (much of upstate New York) to remove any attractants. People should take down birdfeeders and clean up any remaining bird seed by April 1, store garbage inside secure buildings, and feed pets indoors. By taking these simple steps, New Yorkers can help to ensure bears will find food naturally, which in turn protects people, property, and bears.

Due to the amount of nuisance bear activity in the Town of Wilton and residents non-compliance with direction to avoid attracting nuisance bears, DEC is shifting from an educational mode to an enforcement mode.  Residences with bird feeders and other bear attractants will be given a written warning by NYS DEC. If they fail to heed the warning they may be issued a ticket that could result in a maximum penalty of $250 fine and 15 days in jail.


  • Eliminate or secure any material that may attract bears.
  • Properly store and manage garbage
    • Store garbage securely. Use bear resistant garbage containers with secure lids.
    • Prevent garbage container overflow.
    • Keep surrounding area clear of trash, no trash outside of container(s).
    • Place garbage to the curb in the morning of pickup, not the night before.
    • Close garage doors and ground-floor doors at night.
  • Do not feed animals outside
    • Eliminate/Remove bird feeders.
    • Feed family pets indoors and store pet food securely.
    • Keep pet food and bird seed inside a solid, secure structure (house, shed, garage, etc.)
  • Prevent bears from obtaining human food.
    • Clean food grills after every use and store securely.
    • Keep refrigerators and freezers in a secure place.
    • Coolers left outside may attract bears.
    • If grills cannot be secured, move grills away from houses and remove grease traps after each use.
  • Keep bears away from your house and property
    • Install motion sensors that detect and repel bear with high-pitched sounds and flashing lights, such as Critter Gitter.
    • Erect electric fencing.


 Anyone who sees a bear is asked to report it immediately 
to the DEC wildlife unit at (518) 897-1291


Bears and Bird Feeders
Bears and Bird Feeders

Are bird feeders really a problem for bears? Yes, bears (and other wildlife) are readily attracted to back yards because of the presence of bird feeders. Bear nuisance complaint records reveal that at certain times of the year, bird feeders are involved in over 80% of the bear problems around homes. The situation often escalates to other unnatural food sources such as garbage cans, barbeque grills, and compost piles as bears become bolder and more acclimated to people. Such activities are not in the best interest of the bears or the homeowners.

Reducing Human-Bear Conflicts
Reducing Human-Bear Conflicts

In New York State, people and black bears often find themselves living nearby one another. Bears can obtain all of the nourishment they need from the forest, but they are intelligent and opportunistic animals. They will find and consume whatever food they can access most easily. Bears must often cross roads and pass through developed areas to find the varied habitat types that produce their seasonal food sources. They often find human foods readily accessible along the way if homeowners do not take necessary precautions. Not every bear that passes through a developed area is a 'problem bear'. However, available human food sources can quickly turn them into one.

Black Bear Encounters
Black Bear Encounters
What to do if you encounter a black bear. Bears aggressively defend themselves when they feel threatened. Be especially cautious around cubs as mother bears are very protective.
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