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Wilmington Man Arrested for Allegedly Feeding Bear

WILMINGTON, Vt – Vermont Fish & Wildlife wardens have arrested a Wilmington man for allegedly intentionally feeding bears. James Burke, 60, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of illegally feeding bears and faces fines of more than $1,300.

On September 29, 2016, Vermont Game Wardens Richard Watkin and Lt. Greg Eckhardt, with assistance from the Wilmington Police Department, executed a search warrant at Burke’s Wilmington residence.

It is illegal in the state of Vermont to intentionally feed bears. The law was passed in 2013 in an attempt to reduce bear-human conflicts. Bears that have been fed by people will continue to seek out human sources of food, presenting a potential danger to human safety and property.

“A bear that has been fed no longer behaves like a wild bear,” said Forrest Hammond, bear biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “Too often, these instances end tragically for the bear. The bear ends up being hit by a car as they go from house to house foraging for food, or they lose their fear of people and become aggressive and need to be put down. Bears that have been fed can present a danger not just to the person feeding the bear, but also to their neighbors for many miles around.”

“The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and our many conservation and sporting partners work hard to ensure that Vermont’s bear population remains healthy and wild,” added Hammond.