A press release says prior to the recent snow storm, the department received numerous reports of bears at bird feeders, residential areas, and wandering the backcountry.
“It is not uncommon for bears to be out of their dens in winters like this with so little snow cover,” said Forrest Hammond, bear project leader for the Fish & Wildlife Department. “Bears sleep soundly in winters when deep snow covers the entrances to their dens. But during years with little snow, bears are exposed and awaken easily.”
Bears who are disrupted from their sleep may create new dens. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says bears are generally docile, but can become aggressive if they feel cornered or if a mother bear feels her cubs are being threatened.
"Hunters, hikers, skiers, and other backcountry travelers should steer clear of areas where they see bear tracks,” said Hammond. “This is a very difficult time for bears in which they are extremely vulnerable to disturbance and may be with newborn cubs."
Vermonters are now required by law to take nonlethal measures to protect property. This may include removing attractants such as birdfeeders, garbage and pet food, or properly fencing chicken coops or bee hives.