By Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2020

St. Johnsbury, Vt. (AP) - Vermont wildlife officials say bears are more active than normal this winter thanks to mild weather and an abundance of accessible food.

Forrest Hammond, a bear biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife, said as long as bears have access to food they will remain active, the Caledonian Record reported Wednesday.

Bears hibernate when food becomes scarce or hard to find. The milder weather this winter, combined with an abundance of acorns and beechnuts, have created ideal conditions for bears to remain active.

“We have a lot less snow this winter, and temperatures have been higher than normal, making it even more tempting for bears to wake up and seek a snack,” Hammond said.

Wildlife officials have recommended moving any potential outdoor food sources to prevent attracting bears.

“In winters like this one where there is not much of an insulating snow cover, bears feel less secure and spend less time actually sleeping while in their dens,” Hammond said. “So, people who go hiking with their dogs need to realize that with little snow this winter, bears are more vulnerable to being disturbed by free-roaming dogs. Either leave your dog at home or keep it under control while you are out there.”

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