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MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is offering bird feeding enthusiasts some tips about feeding their avian friends during the winter.

The department’s migratory bird biologist John Buck recommends people only feed birds during the winter to avoid attracting bears.

The department suggests a general feeding window of Dec. 1-March 31, but bears will be present when the ground’s snowless and food is available. He recommends waiting to put feeders out until there is 4 to 6 inches of snow on the ground to be sure the bears denned for the winter.

Buck says birds don’t generally need food from backyard feeders to survive, but feeding them is a great way for people to interact with nature.

He also urges people to clean birdfeeders at least once a month.