How to keep bears out of your compost

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The Associated Press

MONTPELIER — With Vermont's new food scrap ban in effect, the state is offering tips for backyard composters to avoid attracting bears.

Starting July 1, most food scraps are now banned from the trash and landfill in Vermont. Vermonters need to collect their food scraps and either compost them in their yards, take them to food waste drop-off sites such as transfer stations or have them hauled away by a service. It's part of Vermont's Universal Recycling Law to cut down on trash in landfills.

The best way to keep bears away is to take food scraps to a drop-off station or have them picked up by a trash hauler, the Fish & Wildlife Department said. For backyard composters, minimize the chances of attracting bears by using three parts brown material — such as dried leaves and yard debris, wood chips or shredded paper — to one part green material — which includes kitchen scraps, vegetables and small amounts of fruits, the department said. Adding brown material cuts down on smells and quickens composting.

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"We have been receiving lots of reports of bears on decks, tearing down bird feeders, wrecking beehives, killing chickens, and getting into trash, compost and garbage containers," bear biologist Forrest Hammond said in a written statement.

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Here are other guidelines from the department:

- Do not compost meat or bones, which can attract wildlife. People who compost at home are still allowed to dispose of those in the trash.

- Frequently mix or turn compost over if it's in a container to reduce odors and speed up composting. If the compost smells, add more brown material and a layer of wood shavings or sawdust the top should fix the problem.

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- Compost in a hard, durable container with a lid that will hard for a bear to open.

- Compost bins, as well as beehives and chicken coops, can be protected with an electric fence. Bird feeders should be removed until the state has a foot or more of snow in December. Trash containers should be secured in a study building until the day of garbage pickup.

- If you have a bear issue, delay starting a compost bin until the issue is resolved.


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