Feeding Black Bears Banned

Send by email Printer-friendly version Share this

The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries recently adopted a regulation making it unlawful to place or to distribute food, minerals, carrion, or similar substances to feed or to attract bears. That regulation became effective on July 1, 2003. This new regulation is intended to curtail the deliberate feeding of black bears, a practice that may cause bears to lose their innate fear of people and may increase the likelihood of bears becoming nuisances.

In addition, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) encourages homeowners to take steps to minimize the inadvertent feeding of bears. Proper storage and disposal of attractants can reduce the possibility of bears finding these food sources. Pet owners should feed their outdoor animals only what the animals will consume; all extra food should be removed and stored indoors. Grills and trash should be stored indoors (i.e. garage). Refuse should be removed frequently. If a refuse service is used, then trash cans should be placed at the curb on the morning of pickup instead the previous night. If a bear is sighted in the area, bird feeders should be removed temporarily and all seed on the ground should be cleared.

Generally shy and secretive, black bears are opportunistic feeders. They adapt readily to a wide variety of food and can become aggressive when attempting to get to that food. When bears associate people with food, and consequently lose their fear of people, those bears often have to be destroyed because of public safety concerns. Ultimately VDGIF's goal is to keep black bears wild and to encourage them to seek naturally available food sources.

Of the 27 states that have bears and allow bear hunting, 16 of them restrict bear feeding in some way. To learn more about bear hunting seasons, bag limits and regulations, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Web site at www.dgif.state.va.us. For specific information about the new bear feeding regulation, go to www.dgif.state.va.us/regulations/4VAC1540-Final.html.