In this March 24, 2018 photo two brown bears challenge in the animal park in Neuschoenau, southern Germany. Credit: Lino Mirgeler | AP

MONTPELIER, Vt. — A bounty of late autumn foods and warm temperatures is keeping some of Vermont’s bears awake during the winter months they would normally be hibernating, biologists say.

So Vermont bear biologist Forrest Hammond is urging people to avoid disturbing bears or providing them any food.

During years when food is short, bears will sometimes go into their winter dens as early as October. Hibernating allows bears to conserve energy and fat reserves.

“But in years like 2019 when late autumn foods such as acorns, beech nuts, apples, mountain ash berries, and winter berries are plentiful, many bears will remain active as long as they can find food,” said Hammond.

There is not much insulating snow this winter and bears feel less secure and so they spend less time hibernating.

“This was why so many bears and bear sign are still being observed even now,” Hammond said. “If they are still able to access some kind of food, many of them will remain active, rather than stay in their dens.”

He urged people to remove potential sources of food. And if bears appear he urged Vermonters to bring in their bird feeders.