Vermont’s bear hunting season starts Sept. 1, and judging by the number of bear raids on gardens, berry patches, garbage cans, and compost piles that have been reported to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department over the past couple of months, it comes not a moment too soon.
Bears are abundant all over Vermont, and some have shown a distinct lack of fear when it comes to humans and food sources. That has kept Fish and Wildlife game wardens busy this year.
Fish and Wildlife bear biologist Forrest Hammond says that there’s an abundance of fall foods for wildlife in most of the state this year. The apple crop looks excellent, and other favorite bear treats such as beechnuts, acorns, and blackberries are plentiful around southern Vermont.
Vermont has two bear hunting seasons: The early bear hunting season, which requires a special bear tag, tuns Sept. 1 through Nov. 14. The late bear season runs Nov. 15 through Nov. 23. A hunter may take one bear during the year.
Hunters took 562 bears last year in Vermont, with the largest number in Rockingham, where 12 were harvested by licensed hunters.
Hammond says Vermont’s regulated bear hunting seasons help in managing the state’s population of approximately 6,000 bears. As the department continues to refine its bear management approaches, 17 percent, or 2,000, of this year’s early-season bear hunters will participate in a survey about their hunting effort.
“Twenty-five years ago, Vermont had less than 3,000 bears, and they were found mostly in the mountains and in the northeastern quarter of the state,” Hammond said in a news release. “Although we have successfully increased bear numbers, the human population has also risen, resulting in more encounters between humans and bears. Carefully regulated hunting helps control the growth of the black bear population and allows for their sustainable use, while decreasing interactions with humans.”
Unfortunately, the state didn’t have bears in mind when its universal recycling law took effect July 1. Meant to encourage more composting as part of the effort to reduce the amount of trash sent to landfills, the law had the unintended consequence of creating more food sources for bears.
Hammond said there are a few steps people can take to compost without enticing curious bears.
He recommends that people maintain a compost bin that is as scent-free as possible, which will help avoid attracting bears with their powerful sense of smell. This can be done with regular maintenance of the pile by adding three parts carbon-rich “brown” materials such as dry leaves, straw, or ripped-up paper for every one part food scraps or “green” materials.
Additionally, turning the pile every couple of weeks and burying fresh food scraps down in the pile helps reduce their attractiveness. However, if bears are already common in your area, Hammond says, consider taking your food scraps to your local drop-off facility, such as the Project C.O.W. bin at Windham Solid Waste Management District’s transfer station on Old Ferry Road in Brattleboro.
Compost is not the only food source that may interest bears. “If you live where bears are common, your trash and pet-food bins must be properly secured, using a bear-proof container if necessary,” Hammond reports.
He also recommends that bird feeders be removed between April 1 and Nov. 30, and that bee hives and chicken coops be secured with electric fencing in bear country.
Because bears make a habit of feeding on human food sources once they find them, Hammond says that it is extremely difficult to relocate a nuisance bear. “It’s up to people to avoid attracting bears before a bear becomes an issue,” he says.
‘Hog Jog’ set for Sept. 12
• In conjunction with WKVT’s second annual Baconfest, the Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the Hog Jog 5K and 10K race on Saturday, Sept. 12.
The race starts at the Guilford Fairgrounds and heads south on Weatherhead Hollow Road on a rolling out-and-back course on dirt roads. Runners receive a T-shirt and complimentary breakfast (including bacon, of course).
Pre-registration at www.active.com/guilford-vt/running/distance-running-races/guilford-hog-jog-2015 is encouraged.
Packet pick-up and race day registration starts at 8:30 a.m. The races will start together at 9:30 a.m. There will be packet pickup at the Chamber of Commerce in Brattleboro on Friday, Sept. 11, from noon to 5 p.m.
Walk, Run, and Roll 5K celebrates 20 years
• It is time for the Walk, Run, and Roll 5K race to benefit the Brattleboro Walk-In Clinic. This year’s event takes place on Saturday, Sept. 12, the 20th anniversary of the annual 5K race, 5K walk, one-mile kids’ fun run, and 34-mile cycling race.
This fundraiser benefits the Brattleboro Walk-In Clinic, whose mission is to provide free health care to those in our community who lack insurance, are underinsured, or who have other barriers to accessing care. The clinic is staffed primarily by volunteer providers, nurses, and clerical staff. It is located at 81 Belmont Ave. in space donated by Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.
Registration for the cycling event begins at 7 a.m., with a 7:30 start time. Registration for the 5K Run, 5K Walk, and Kids’ Fun Run registration begins at 7:45 with these start times: 8:30 for the Fun Run, for children 12 and younger; 8:45 for the 5K Walk; and 9 for the 5K run.
Registration is held at the entrance behind the BMH Richards Building, or Maple Street entrance. The first 100 adults to register receive a free T-shirt. This year, expect a slight modification in the 5K course. Details will be available on race day.
Entrants may register on race day or else print a registration form from via www.Brattleborowalkinclinic.com. Registration also is handled at www.3CRaceProductions.com. Registration forms are available at Burrows Specialized Sports and Brattleboro Pharmacy. A non-refundable entry fee of $25 covers the 5K Walk/Run event. Children participating in the one-mile kids’ fun run are free.
Runners and walkers will be treated to a great variety of prizes from Brattleboro’s best known restaurants, shops, and retail outlets. These will be awarded to finishers in several categories.
Rec. Dept. offers fall programs
The Brattleboro Recreation and Parks Department offers all sorts of fall sports programs for local youth.
• The first fall session of gymnastics classes begin the week of Sept. 8 at the Gibson Aiken Canter, 207 Main St. Classes run for an eight-week session and end on Oct. 31. The cost is $72 for Brattleboro residents and $87 for non-residents. Late registrations will be prorated.
Classes are run Mondays though Saturdays for ages 18 months and up. Pick up a copy of the fall activities flyer for a listing of class times. Amanda Montgomery will direct the gymnastics program.
• There is also an open gym time available on Tuesdays and Thursdays for ages 1-5 with parent for $4, or Saturdays for ages 6 and up for $7.
• A girls’ youth field hockey program for grades 3 through 6 will be offered again this fall. All levels and abilities are welcome. Skills will be taught and games will be played with kids from other towns if there are enough participants. Practices will be held at the West River Park Multipurpose Field on Route 30 on Tuesdays from 5 to 6 p.m.
Registration is Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 2 and 3, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Gibson-Aiken Center. The cost is $30 for Brattleboro residents and $45 for non-residents. Field hockey sticks are supplied by the Recreation and Parks Department. Participants must bring their own mouth guards and shin guards.
• A kindergarten soccer program runs Mondays, Sept. 14 through Oct. 19. This five-week program (no practice on Oct. 12) will be held at Living Memorial Park on the Upper Field and is for all kindergarteners.
There will be a choice of two time slots that children can register for: 4 to 4:45 p.m. or 5 to 5:45. Groups are limited to 25 children. Registration is Sept. 2 and 3 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Gibson-Aiken Center. The fee is $20 for Brattleboro residents and $35 for non-residents. This fee includes a T-shirt.
The program will need volunteers to help the program coordinator run the program. If interested, call Sarah Clark as soon as possible at 802-254-5808, ext. 104. Basic soccer skills will be taught in a fun format. Shin guards and sneakers or cleats are recommended.
• A co-ed youth soccer program is offered this fall for grades 1-6. Techniques of dribbling, passing, and shooting will be taught, and each child will have the opportunity to use these skills in team games. There will be one practice per week and at least one game per week.
The program will be organized in separate groups: grades 1 and 2, 3 and 4, and 5 and 6. Practices will start the week of Sept. 14 and run through the beginning of November. Registration will be held Sept. 2 and 3 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Gibson-Aiken Center. The fee is $35 for Brattleboro residents and $45 for non-residents. This fee includes a T-shirt. Shin guards required and cleats are recommended.
Volunteer coaches are needed for this program.
For more information, including accommodations for special needs, call the Recreation and Parks Department at 802-254-5808 or visit www.brattleboro.org.