Bear on a picnic table

What Causes Human-Bear Conflicts?

Never feed bears intentionally; it is illegal and creates human-bear conflicts.

The simple answer is food! Bears are more likely to seek out human food sources in the spring, when natural food is scarce, and in the summer, particularly during periods of drought.

The leading cause of bear complaints in New York is bears getting into residential garbage and birdfeeders.

In New York State, people and black bears often find themselves living nearby one another. Bears can obtain all of the nourishment they need from the forest, but they are intelligent and opportunistic animals. They will find and consume whatever food they can access most easily. Bears must often cross roads and pass through developed areas to find the varied habitat types that produce their seasonal food sources. They often find human foods readily accessible along the way if homeowners do not take necessary precautions. Not every bear that passes through a developed area is a ‘problem bear’. However, available human food sources can quickly turn them into one.