- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - State residents are being urged to take down bird feeders because hungry bears are beginning to emerge from winter hibernation and finding the late arrival of spring means they can’t get much to eat, the Department of Fish & Wildlife said Friday.

The cold end to winter and beginning of spring also could be hard on Vermont’s deer, which use up much of their fat reserves during the winter, but it could benefit moose because the winter ticks that have become a problem for many moose don’t survive prolonged cold weather. Moose aren’t as bothered by deep snow.

Despite the cold and snowy weather, bears are being spotted across the state, officials said.

“Once we receive reports bears are out and about, we urge Vermonters to remove any bear attractants,” said Mark Scott, Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s director of wildlife. “Take down your birdfeeder, seal up your garbage and turn on the electric fence around your chicken coop or beehive.”

Some moose can be covered with up to 150,000 winter ticks, and biologists are trying to determine if the ticks are responsible for a decline in the health of the state’s moose population. The ticks drop off the moose in the spring, and if the weather is cold they will freeze to death. And the dark-colored ticks on the white snow are more likely to be eaten by birds.

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