Safe Composting in Bear Country

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Bears in Vermont are thinking ahead to winter and, looking to fatten up, are currently in search of easy calories. Compost can become a bear attractant

as with trash bins, bird feeders, and pet foodif not properly managed. Fortunately, Vermonters can minimize conflicts over compost by taking a few extra steps, according to Forrest Hammond, bear project leader with Vermont Fish & Wildlife.

“With more Vermonters choosing to compost, we want to help them prevent any potential problems with bears,” said Hammond.  “People can effectively reduce the chances of bears causing damage to their property and protect the bears as well.”

Here are a few of Hammond’s tips for safe composting in bear country:

·         Most importantly, keep scent to a minimum by covering all food scraps or ‘green’ materials with carbon-rich ‘brown’ materials like dry leaves, straw, or ripped up paper.

·         Turn your compost often to aid decomposition.

·         Use an enclosed bin lined with wire, or an open pile protected by electric fencing. Bait electric fencing with peanut butter or bacon grease to increase effectiveness.

·         Avoid composting meat or bones.

·         For backyard chicken owners, feed some of your food scraps to your chickens and compost the rest, and replace scraps for chickens daily.

·         For smelly waste, consider trench composting by burying food scraps deeply in your garden.

·         Avoid the hassle and take your food scraps to a local drop off facility. Visit to find a composter near you!

To avoid attracting bears, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department also recommends that bird feeders be taken down from April 1 to November 30, beehives and chicken coops be protected with electric fencing, and trash and pet food be secured.

For more information on living with black bears or to report a bear incident, visit the “Living with Wildlife” page at

For Immediate Release:  July 12, 2018
Media Contacts:  Forrest Hammond, Vt Fish & Wildlife 802-885-8832
Josh Kelly, Waste Management Division, Vt DEC 802-522-5897

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