Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Vermont: James Burke fined $868 for ignoring wildlife officials' repeated warnings to stop feeding bears at his house

VERMONT -- Vermont wildlife officials said a man was fined $868 after wardens caught him feeding wild black bears in his yard.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife said Wardens Richard Watkin and Lt. Greg Eckhardt executed a search warrant at the Wilmington home of James Burke,60, and witnessed "several bears" eating from plates of food in the yard and acting "indifferent to human presence."

The agency shared a photo of a bear walking among the plates of food on Facebook.

Officials said Burke was convicted of two misdemeanor counts and fined $868 for feeding the bears, which was made illegal by a 2013 law.

The agency said Burke was repeatedly warned about feeding bears over the years (as far back as 2006) and officials offered to work with him to wean the bears off his food source, but the search warrant was issued when they discovered that bears fitted with radio collars for a habitat study were continuing to frequent the property.

"Wardens noted a large number of bears that were killed along the road near the man's residence," the Facebook post said.

“A bear that has been fed no longer behaves like a wild bear,” said Forrest Hammond, bear biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “Too often, these instances end tragically for the bear.

"The bear ends up being hit by a car as they go from house to house foraging for food, or they lose their fear of people and become aggressive and need to be put down. Bears that have been fed can present a danger not just to the person feeding the bear, but also to their neighbors for many miles around.”

(UPI - Dec 9, 2016)


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