Living with Bears in the MRV

Black bears (Urus americanus) are the only species of bear found in the Eastern United States and a healthy population makes its home in the Mad River Valley. Black bears are relatively long-lived, intelligent, and generally elusive animals. They are omnivores and 90% of their natural diet consists of grasses, berries, nuts, fruits, and plants. Their typical habitat is characterized by remote terrain, thick understory vegetation, and wetlands. They breed every other year once they are 3-5 years old and usually have two to four cubs.

Unfortunately, black bears are sometimes attracted to human food sources such as trash, compost, and bird feeders. Bears don’t know they’re doing anything wrong. They’re just following their noses to the easiest calories they can find. Bears that do find food around homes and communities often lose their natural wariness of people and can cause damage to property, vehicles, and even homes.

The goal of this page is to help MRV residents and visitors learn about this iconic species that we share our Valley with. By learning about the lives of black bears, you will enhance your enjoyment of this fascinating species and help minimize any conflicts that could occur. We all share responsibility in keeping our bears safe!


Black Bear Biology


Black Bear Management in Vermont


Black Bears and People


Trash and Compost

Bird Feeders

Bees, Chickens, and Fruit Trees

It is your responsibility to avoid attracting bears!

According to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, Vermonters must take reasonable measures to protect their property from bears. Some of these measures include:

  • Never feed bears, deliberately or accidentally.
  • Feed your pets indoors.
  • Feed birds from December to March only.
  • Store trash in a secure place. Trash cans alone are not enough!
  • Keep chickens and honeybees secure within an electric fence or other bear-proof enclosure.
  • Secure compost bins.

People will not be reimbursed for bear damage to livestock, fruit trees, or bees, although farmers can be reimbursed as long as their land is not posted against hunting.

Persons experiencing bear damage should contact the nearest Fish & Wildlife office or your State Game Warden prior to taking any control action on their own. Fish & Wildlife personnel will recommend appropriate measures or control strategies that can lessen the problem.

Report any bear sightings or incidents on the Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s Black Bear Incident Report.