NEWS

Fremont residents told to stop feeding birds because of bear

Rob Montana

About a week after a black bear entered a back room connected to Harold and Carol Bates’ home in Fremont — and left by crashing through a window with a 50-pound bag of bird seed in its mouth — the couple has received an order from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to stop feeding the birds.

The Bateses were concerned that the bear had entered the back room — because they are raising their 5- and 7-year-old grandsons and were worried about the bears possibly harming them — and had contacted area DEC officials, but had gotten little response and no one had come to check out their situation, only telling them they needed to remove their bird feeders from the grounds and remove any food items from the back room. Frustrated, they contacted The Evening Tribune with their concerns.

About two hours after an article appeared in the newspaper, they received a visit from Marty DeLong, a DEC Region 8 fish and wildlife technician.

“We said to all of them, please help us,” Harold Bates said of his efforts to get assistance from the DEC. “Nobody showed up until after the paper came out.”

Harold Bates said DeLong told them they needed to remove their bird feeders, because they were enticing the bears, and that they could get a “nasty letter” if they didn’t comply. The Bateses also were told to secure their back room, and keep it locked, so the bear didn’t enter their home again.

“We had been taking the feeders down in the evening, when we went to bed, for about 4-6 weeks,” said Harold Bates. “Since last Friday, when Marty visited, we’ve had them down completely.

“He asked me and asked me to do it,” Harold added, “and we took them down.”

So the Bateses were surprised when they opened their mail Wednesday to find a letter from DeLong, noting the July 11 visit and that they’d been offered technical advice on how to prevent the attraction of bears.

“If you fail to take corrective action and the bears are attracted to your property after the date of this letter (7/11/08), you may be in violation of Part 187.1(b)(7) of the New York Codes Rules and Regulations,” stated the letter, which also included a warning that a failure to comply could result in a fine of up to $250 and/or up to 15 days in jail.

Part 187 of the codes are rules and regulations for the indirect or incidental feeding of bears.

The letter also noted the technical advice of taking down the feeders, closing and locking the back room door, and spraying an ammonia solution around the entry door inside and out.

Harold Bates said DeLong had told them if they didn’t remove the feeders, they could get a ‘nasty’ letter.

“He told us, if you comply, you won’t get the nasty letter,” said Carol Bates.

“That is the impression we got, comply and no letter,” Harold Bates added, saying the letter was in retaliation for talking about the issue to the newspaper.

DeLong did return a phone call about the matter, leaving a message with a brief explanation of the situation.

“It’s a letter I’m mandated to send out,” he said in the message. “It’s basically a form letter that we are now sending out to people who have not stopped feeding birds

“The difficult thing is they had stopped after I asked them to last week,” DeLong added. “The letter was issued this week, under the circumstances I was mandated to send it.”

DeLong could not be reached for further comment by press time.

Carol Bates said the only thing the couple hasn’t done is spray the ammonia solution, primarily because their cat lives in the back room, and would start going to the bathroom anywhere it smelled the ammonia.

“I don’t want to smell it when I’m in and around the back room,” Harold Bates said.

Harold Bates is upset little action has been taken, other than receiving a warning letter.

“He (DeLong) did tell us the bear should be trapped and euthanized,” Harold Bates said. “He said he’d talk to Greg (Fuerst, DEC Region 8 black bear specialist) about it.”

That bears are in the area isn’t a surprise, Harold Bates said, adding he and his wife have had no problems with them — until now. He said as long as they stay out of his home and away from his grandchildren, he’s fine with them being around. Bates also noted they’d seen a bear amble across their property Wednesday night, but it was at the edge of the yard before crossing Jones Road and taking a dip in a neighbor’s pond.

“The only thing I’m concerned about is the grandkids,” Harold Bates said. “We have to coexist with these bears — except for the problem ones, and when they start entering your home, they’re a problem.

“I do not think the bears will hurt the children, but I’m not willing to bet their lives on it,” he added.

The Evening Tribune