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For Release: Thursday, June 22, 2023

DEC Announces Partnership with BearWise Campaign

Campaign Will Help New Yorkers Live Responsibly with Black Bears

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that DEC is joining the BearWise campaign as a cooperative member state. BearWise was developed by biologists from state conservation agencies across the U.S. to ensure people, regardless of location, learn to live responsibly with bears. Using the "BearWise basics," (leaves DEC website) residents are encouraged to take simple steps at home or when recreating outdoors to avoid negative interactions with black bears.

"DEC biologists and technicians respond to hundreds of human-bear conflicts each year that are nearly all preventable," Commissioner Seggos said. "As New Yorkers head into the summer months, which is a busy time for bears, DEC encourages the public to practice the BearWise basics by removing things bears find attractive like pet food and trash to help reduce the potential for negative interactions."

Black bears are most active throughout the spring and summer months and can be attracted to human-created food sources, especially during dry weather periods when natural food sources are scarce. The BearWise campaign recommends people take six basic steps to avoid attracting bears to areas around homes or neighborhoods:

  • Never feed or approach black bears;
  • Secure food, garbage, and recycling;
  • Remove bird feeders when bears are active;
  • Never leave pet food outdoors;
  • Clean and store grills and smokers; and
  • Alert neighbors to bear activity.

BearWise also recommends six basics when recreating or vacationing in bear country:

  • Stay alert and together;
  • Leave no trash or food scraps behind;
  • Keep dogs leashed;
  • Camp away from dense cover;
  • Secure food and cook as far away from tents/living quarters as possible; and
  • Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and know how to respond if you see a bear.

For more information on how to live responsibly with black bears and how to be BearWise visit DEC's webpage or the BearWise website (leaves DEC website).

WATCH DEC's videos 'Bears in the Backyard' and 'Camping With Bears'.

If a bear is damaging property or is reluctant to leave the area, but the situation is not an emergency, call DEC's regional wildlife office during business hours, or call the DEC Law Enforcement Dispatch Center at 1-844-DEC-ECOs (1-844-332-3267).

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