CONCORD, N.H. -- An important new rule now in effect bans the use of solid chocolate or candy containing chocolate when baiting bear in New Hampshire. In 2016, the use of baked goods containing chocolate will also be prohibited.
Under the new rule, no person shall establish, tend, or hunt bear over a bait containing chocolate or any cocoa derivative, except that during the 2015 bear baiting season only, donuts, pastries, or other baked goods containing chocolate or cocoa derivatives may be used as bait. For the 2016 black bear baiting season and for all subsequent black bear baiting seasons, no person shall establish, tend, or hunt over a bait containing chocolate or any cocoa derivative.
"This rule change was done to prevent the poisoning of bears and other wildlife that may ingest theobromine if chocolate is used as bait," says N.H. Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist, Andrew Timmons. "Baiting is an important harvest tool used to manage our bear population and this regulatory step will prevent the unintended consequences of the continued use of chocolate as bait. Most hunters and the majority of the public were very supportive of this rule change, showing their appreciation of the wildlife resource."
White chocolate may be used as bait during the 2015 black bear baiting season and all subsequent black bear baiting seasons.
Chocolate contains the ingredient theobromine, which can be toxic to bears and other wildlife that consume bait. White chocolate, however, is processed in such a way that it contains only trace amounts of theobromine. Theobromine poisoning of black bear cubs and raccoons has been documented in Michigan and four bears died in close proximity to a bait site in New Hampshire in 2014 as a result of theobromine poisoning.
"These rules will help ensure that New Hampshire's bears and other wildlife are not at risk from the toxic effects of theobromine in the future," said Timmons.
The bottom line: Do not use chocolate as bait for bears. It's the law.