For the week of July 15 thru July 21, 1998  

Beware: Bears like birdseed

Express Staff Writer

Putting a bird feeder in your yard may attract animals other than birds.

Such has been the case recently in west Ketchum and Warm Springs, said Fish and Game conservation officer Lee Frost.

Frost said he has been getting three to four calls a day from residents who have spotted black bears lumbering through their backyards.

"If it’s predictable, it’s preventable," said Frost. "If you put a bird feeder in your yard in Ketchum in the spring, summer or fall, you will get a bear--it’s a given."

Frost said that four or five different bears have been spotted on the fringes of town, near Bald Mountain. These bears spend their days in the shade up on the mountain and then come down to town in the late afternoons to find food.

As the summer progresses and the hills become dryer, the bears are drawn to the coolness and moisture of the rivers and creeks.

The black bears, which are sub-adults and weigh between 65 to 125 pounds, are not a public safety issue, Frost said.

"Obviously, a black bear has the physical ability to injure you, but these in town are benign," he said.

Frost also said that trapping and relocating the bears isn’t really a solution to their frequent visits to residential yards.

"It would be better if people bear-proofed their places," Frost said.

Bird feeders are an obvious target for the bears, which love sunflower seeds. Garbage cans, pet food and even barbecues left out unattended or overnight are an attraction for the bears as well, Frost said.

Fred White, a homeowner on Wood River Drive, has had several visits from the black bears this spring. After the bears destroyed his bird feeders a couple of times, White began bringing them in at night.

"I’m not concerned now that I understand it better," White said. "I’m cool about it. Besides, bears are kind of cute, you know?"

Frost also pointed out that bears have very good memories. Even if a bird feeder is taken in at night, the bears may still visit their old feeding place a few times before giving up.


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