Nature News


Part 2 of Feed the Birds Not the Bears
By Cheryl Killam    6-27-18

2018 is definitely the year for bears in New Hampshire and the bear population is continually increasing in southern New Hampshire.

There have been repeated warnings from Fish and Game to take in the bird feeders on April 1st and now there are reports of multiple bears being destroyed. The phrase “A fed bear is a dead bear” is no joke. They are opportunists looking for easy sources of food until their blue berries and raspberries become available. The key is to not let them get anything to eat at your place so they keep on going.

Last summer there were seven bears that I knew of. Four of them traveled through our place on Ham Rd, a Mom and her two full grown cubs, who are now 2 years old and should be out on their own as well as a “big big” male that laid down looking at us from about 25 feet away hoping for a handout which he did not get.

Then there was another Mom with 2 cubs in Epping, they are now full grown one year old cubs, and maybe still following her around. I suspect all of these bears are roaming through the back yards and open green space in Raymond, Nottingham, and Northwood, around routes 156, 152 and 125 and in Deerfield as well.

Beginning in spring of 2018 the bear sightings started to become more and more frequent. Following comments on the Facebook postings it was clear that there were as many as 8 bears moving around the seven towns of Candia, Chester, Fremont, Raymond, Deerfield, Nottingham, and Northwood.

Our winters have become warmer; we have seen more and more bears that only semi-hibernate and come out periodically throughout the winter in search of food, usually by destroying an unsuspecting trash bag or low hanging suet and birdfeeders.

The community Facebook posts were constantly telling us where a bear had been seen and what time of day.

One made its way into the north side of Manchester, who was tranquilized and moved by NH Fish and Game. Another unfortunately got a lamb in Candia and another was seen in Chester then over in Fremont then Kingston, probably the same bear just roaming around looking for bird feeders.

There were many postings during May, about one bear in Deerfield and then 2 bears videoed in Nottingham, probably the 2 year olds. Sadly one bear had taken a couple baby goats and a chicken, another broke into a cabinet containing bird seed on someone’s back porch and others just stole birdfeeders, all in Nottingham. Not positive which ones, but some of them have been destroyed due to their bold survivalist behaviors.

The most interesting part of living in New Hampshire is that we have wildlife living in and around our yards, our neighborhoods, our communities and most of the time we do not see them, but if we do, some of us wildlife lovers usually get excited about seeing a new wild animal in our area.

Now, let me make it perfectly clear that I have spoken with NH Fish and Game and am in no way disagreeing or ignoring what they say about taking feeders in on April 1st. The reason to take feeders inside is so that “they are not easily accessible to sunflower seed loving bears who will return once they get a free meal”.

Well, I finally had the proof I wanted, the proof of concept that our bird feeder cable system worked, and I shared this information with NH Fish and Game.

One of those bears, made its way down route 156 from Nottingham, came through my yard on Ham Road in Raymond at 4:30 pm on Tuesday 5/29. I had the pleasure of watching him for 30 minutes.

 

 

This bear walked around under the bird feeders that were hung on cables 11 feet in the air. Yes, he could smell all the sunflower seed and suet hanging up above him, but he could not get anything to eat.

 

 

He wandered around more and went over the rock wall then came back into the front yard sniffing.

 

 

He stood up and looked up the tree then, laid down on the ground and sniffed around where I had wiped the suet off my fingers that morning.

 

 

All he could find were shells left behind by the dozen or so squirrels and five turkeys that forage here. Nothing for him to eat.

 

 

He got up, wandered back over the front rock wall into the woods for a 15 minute nap in the shade, and then returned to make sure he had not missed anything.

 

Again, he got nothing to eat so he left and he has not been back.

Neighbors down the road shared their night time videos of bears wandering through their yards and leaving when they got nothing to eat there either. Just goes to prove that bears are opportunists looking for easy food and if they get nothing to eat they move on and keep searching.

While talking with NH Fish and Game I learned that bears can cover 50 square miles and they have routes that they circle back around on a few times a year. So you might think they are gone but they could return when you least expect it and if you returned your birdfeeders to the low hanging shepherd’s hook or bird feeder pole stations, you could find the signs of damage left behind by the wandering bear.

I also learned that NH Fish and Game prefer to not tranquilize, trap and move a bear if it is not being a "destructive and or dangerous nuisance", because once they are moved they must learn a new territory and could be killed off by older bigger bears who have marked the territory as theirs.

Here is an interesting article on Protecting Bird Feeders from Bears from the Spruce.com website.

 


How to Feed the Wild Birds, not the Bears or the Squirrels
By Cheryl Killam 4-13-17

It’s spring time with summer only weeks away and the bears are moving around Raymond, Epping, Nottingham, Chester and Fremont. NH Fish and Game has put out notices for everyone to take down their bird feeders, before April 1st, of sunflower and mixed seed, peanuts, suet and anything else the bears might want to eat.

The bears have visited Ham Road in Raymond four years in a row now and each year they come out of semi-hibernation a week or two earlier than the previous year.

2014 was the first year we realized that there really were bears strolling through Raymond, because the bird feeder poles were bent and feeders were taken into the woods in April and again in June.

 

They pushed the feeder poles over but couldn't get any seed out.

In 2015 there was damage to the feeders and poles in June, July, September and November from multiple visitors, a mother with two small cubs and a single roaming male. The mother pushed over as many poles as she could so the cubs had plenty to eat with her.

 

Momma pulled the feeders down for the little cubs.

 

In early spring of 2016 the mother along with the full grown yearling cubs returned. She showed them how to find bird seed inside the galvanized buckets on the front porch and how to push the poles over with their front paws.

 

Momma and the yearlings pushed everything down they could.

 

This young bear walked through the front yard at 9:30 AM on June 25th and returned at 5:30 that same night hoping to get the feeders before they were brought inside.

 

This lone bear strolled through at 9:30 in the morning.

 

The first bear visit of the season was Christmas Eve 2016 and it has visited randomly over the past couple months. The bear was determined to get at the feeders and tried climbing five different trees, based on the claw marks in the bark, only to be stopped at the barbed wire wrapped around the tree trunks which prevents them from getting close enough to the cables to break them with their paws and have the feeders come crashing down.This visiting bear has been seen at various times of the day and night around Raymond and Epping.

 

Surprise, surprise, the bear visited on Christmas Eve 2016.

 

We have recorded the dates of all the visits each year and every year we say we are going to bring the bird feeders inside a month earlier but the bears come out before we get them inside.

Since I sit at the computer daily, with my desk beside a window, I really love to feed the wild birds and watch the bright red cardinals, gold finches, purple finches, chickadees, nuthatches, tufted titmouse, red-bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers, blue jays and mourning doves feed. This past winter I finally had 3 pairs of bluebirds chowing down on meal worms and the peanut-butter cornmeal blend. Sadly, only one of those three pairs of bluebirds has decided to stay.

The birds are fed here year round despite the bears who might visit every 3 to 4 weeks because as it gets warmer into spring and summer there are red breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings, orioles, and hummingbirds that visit and stay for the summer bringing their babies to the feeders as well.

This is how to feed the wild birds but not the bears or the squirrels.

All feeders are hung on the cables so that the bottom of the feeders are eight feet minimum from the ground and nine feet away from the tree trunks. Most bears in NH are not much larger than seven feet so they couldn't even reach on their tippy toes

You will need to use a six foot ladder to reach the feeders, to lower them, fill them and then rehang them. So if you don't like heights this might not work for you.

As you can see by the photo below, there are weather baffles over the tops of all feeders to protect the birds and the seed from the rain or snow.

 

 

Some feeders hang directly off of the large S-hook which is secured by the smaller S-hook (not shown above) while others hang from a 4 or 6" length of chain so that the feeders swing in the wind and do not come crashing down.

 

A list of items needed include:

 

 

1. Pick two solid oak or maple trees to hang the cable between. Do not use any fir or pine trees with any branches.

2. Measure the diameter of both trees for the short section of cable that gets slid inside the bicycle inner tube to wrap around the trees up at 11 or 12 feet off the ground and clamp them snug with a cable clamp.

3. Next measure the distance between the trees for the length of the feeder hanger cable, minus 6 inches or the size of the turn-buckle, pinch the cable ends around the tear-drop thimbles and secure them with small cable clamps.

4. Find the center of the hanger cable and attach a cable clamp to the cable and a small S-hook. Spread open one side of the larger S-hook for hanging the feeders on. Now close the bottom open end of the small S-hook around the closed side of the larger S-hook. This lets feeders swing in the wind. Decide how far apart you want more feeders and attach more cable clamps and S-hooks for hanging feeders.

5. Drill holes in the bottoms of the plastic bottles and the divider plates. Attach another cable clamp about 6 feet from the ends of the cable and then slide at least 3 or 4 sets of bottle and divider plates onto the cable. This is how to keep the squirrels from running across the cables to the feeders.

6. Attach a Q-link to the end of the long cable through the teardrop thimble and attach it to the rubber wrapped cable on the tree and hook the other end of the cable to a turn buckle attached to the second rubber wrapped cable that is snug around the second tree trunk.

 

Barbed wire wrapped around the tree keeps bears from reaching cable.

 

Drilled bottles and plastic dividers to keep squirrels off.

 

Rubber wrapped cable, Q-links and turn-buckle.

 

Chain attached to cable and hanging S-hook.

 

You've probably seen the photo of the bear hanging upside down from the cable and climbing paw over paw to reach the red feeder in the middle?

They cannot do that with ours because we keep them from climbing that high up the tree by wrapping barbed wire around the trees from the rubber wrapped chain down 2 to 3 feet. This way the bear can not climb and reach out its paw to the cable and snap it.

 

Claw marks on the bark where the bear climbed to get at the feeders.

 

Trust me it works. This is one of the trees the bear tried climbing and never made it up to the cables. Those are the claw marks in the tree bark and the bird bath beside the tree was knocked over when he slid back down the tree.

All the cables were still up, as were all the birdfeeders.

That is how to feed the birds during the summer but not the bears or squirrels.

This cable is 30 feet between the two trees with feeders spaced 20 inches apart.

 

This cable is 40 feet between the two trees with feeders spaced 3 feet apart.

You will need to check the rubber wrapped cable and barbed wire to adjust it periodically as the tree growns so the bark does not grow around it.

If you do not have the trees to setup the cable system, there is this bear proof pole that can be ordered. Click on The Bear Pole

Here is an interesting article on Staying Safe Around Bears from the National Park Service.

If you are interested in ordering a package with cables and hardware, call 603-679-2235 with necessary measurements and we will quote you a price, including shipping and handling. Or email: cherylkillam@comcast.net and we will get back to you with prices.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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