CONWAY — Do not feed the bears.
That's the message New Hampshire Fish and Game is trying to hammer home to citizens and tourists alike here in the Mount Washington Valley.
August is traditionally a quiet month on the bear front, but it's been anything but quiet with bear sightings and complaints abounding.
"It's been kind of an odd time of year for this to be happening," Andy Timmins, bear project leader for N.H. Fish and Game, said by phone Aug. 12. "This summer has been relatively quiet up until the last few weeks, it's gotten very busy and I'm not sure why. It's odd because up until the last week or two this has been one of the fewest bear complaints for a summer in years."
The biggest concern for wildlife officials is people’s penchant for feeding bears, either intentionally or through neglect. When a bear begins to associate people with food, they lose their natural fear and become more assertive.
The statewide black bear population is considered relatively stable and currently is about 4,800 bears.
In 2006, the path was cleared for fines to be levied on anyone irresponsibly feeding bears. Fines can be as high as $1,000.
Homeowners should take action to reduce the chances of a bear visiting their home by taking a few simple precautions:
* Clean up any spilled bird seed and dispose of it in the trash.
* Secure all garbage in airtight containers inside a garage or adequate storage area, and put garbage out on the morning of pick-up, not the night before.
* Avoid putting meat or other food scraps in your compost pile.
* Don't leave pet food dishes outside overnight.
* Clean and store outdoor grills after each use.
* Never intentionally feed bears.
For more information on preventing conflicts with black bears, visit http://www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/Somethings_Bruin.htm.