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Black Bear Initiative

Maine has approximately 23,000 black bears, the highest population in the lower 48 states. Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IF&W) has seen large increases in nuisance animal complaints largely due to improper management of food wastes. 

IF&W projects that this trend will continue as the bear population continues to grow.  IF&W’s Regional Wildlife Biologist has identified the top five (5) locations (Caribou, Limestone, Mapleton, Presque Isle, and Ashland), where bear nuisance complaints have occurred. These towns contain sufficient habitat for the bear to come in close to relatively large human populations.

Dumpsters, when they are not emptied in a timely period, and located in areas such as apartment complexes, mobile home parks, residential areas, become attractive to bears and other wildlife. Once becoming trained to seek out this food source, bears learn to associate humans with food and soon lose their instinctive fear of humans, thus becoming a nuisance. Since wildlife management is an activity that seeks to balance the needs of humans with the needs of wildlife for the mutual enhancement of both, the public needs to be proactive and alter their solid waste disposal practices.

NMDC and IF&W will develop and implement a public awareness campaign regarding the role people play in wildlife management and the need to improve and properly manage their waste disposal to reduce the amount of human/bear contact.

Bear in Dumpster

In addition, NMDC received funding from the Davis Conservation Foundation to undertake a proactive education campaign to reduce the number of nuisance black bear complaints within the Northern Maine Economic Development District.

Activities will include the following:

  • Complete a review of solid waste pick-up schedules, potential modifications to roll-off containers, and make recommendations that are acceptable to the solid waste haulers and wildlife managers in the region
  • Staff will work with IF&W staff to implement an educational program for   residents in dense residential areas highlighting the problems and reasons for nuisance black bears, how to properly store and dispose of their solid waste, and the roles they play in wildlife management. NMDC will host three workshops within their service area to disseminate their findings. 



For more information email
Jay Kamm or call 498-8736 or toll free in Maine at 1-800-427-8736.




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Northern Maine Development Commission - Phone: 207-498-8736 - Copyright 2019