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MassWildlife: Black bears are active and searching for food

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BOSTON — MassWildlife officials are reminding the public that hungry bears are emerging from their winter dens and seek out food.?
If you live in northern Middlesex County, Worcester County, western Massachusetts, or other areas where bears have been spotted, take these steps to prevent conflicts with black bears:
  • Take down your bird feeders. Natural foods, such as acorns and other nuts, are usually available on the ground, but last year's fall hard mast crop was meager.?Bears will often ignore seasonally available natural foods, like skunk cabbage, in favor of an easy meal at a backyard bird feeder.?Other species, including wild turkeys and coyotes, may also frequent bird feeders which can lead to more human-wildlife conflict.?If you?enjoy watching birds in your yard, MassWildlife suggests adding a water feature or?growing native plants, shrubs, and trees to attract birds.? 
  • Secure other human-associated food sources on your property. Store garbage in closed containers in a garage or outbuilding and put it by the roadside the morning of pick up. Individuals should also secure?bee hives, chickens, and?livestock.? Coops and chicken wire provide inadequate protection from black bears. Properly installed and maintained?electric fencing?is the only way to protect chickens or bee hives?from bears.
  • Protect your pets. The presence of a dog could trigger a bear to be aggressive. Check your yard for bears before letting your dog outside. Keep dogs leashed when they're outdoors and never let dogs chase or interact with bears. 
There are at least 4,500 black bears in Massachusetts and their range is expanding eastward. Take action by educating yourself and your neighbors about proactive measures to avoid conflicts with bears.?

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Dalton Planning Board Works to Update Special Permit Fees

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
DALTON, Mass. — The Planning Board is navigating how to update its special permit fees to bring them up to date with the current costs of services. 
During the board meeting last week, Town Planner Janko Tomasic said the cost of completing the services is higher than what it costs to take action on the application.
The current application fee charged by the Board of Appeals and the Planning Board is $375. 
This fee is intended to cover the cost of labor, time, materials, postage for the certified abutters list for abutter notification, postage for the certified mail for the notice of the decision, and two Berkshire Eagle legal advertisements for the public hearing.
"According to the data, the base cost for a permit application is barely enough to cover the cost of the application process," according to Tomasic's special-permit costs breakdown. 
Based on the last six permits, the least expensive permit is $414 to complete because of the increase in cost for the steps in the permit process.   
The flat certified mail fee for eight letters is $69.52, which covers the cost of certified mail to abutting towns, the applicant, and notice of the decision to the applicant
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