Bear-feeding ban goes into effect

HARRISBURG (AP) -- A Pennsylvania Game Commission regulation against feeding bears was set to take effect today in an effort to limit conflicts between humans and an expanding bear population in Pennsylvania.
Game commissioners approved the regulation in January with a possible punishment of $100 for those found to be intentionally feeding bears.
Conservation officers will give some people a warning before they are fined for feeding bears, as long as the feeding is unintentional, the Game Commission has said.
Although conservation officers won't be looking for people who feed bears, they will respond to complaints from residents who see others putting out fruit, nuts or other food for bears.
Under the regulation, people also can't feed birds, squirrels or other animals if the food unintentionally attracts bears.
If someone complains to conservation officers that the feeding of other animals is unintentionally attracting bears, the person doing the feeding would receive a written notice to stop. If someone continued to put out food that attracted bears, the person could receive a $100 fine.
A 2001 study recommended prohibiting the feeding of black bears to limit conflicts between humans and the animals.
Bears now number about 15,000 in Pennsylvania and are expanding into southeastern and western counties, the Game Commission said.