As the weather cools off and local bears head off to hibernate, the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) wildlife biologists are asking for the public's help to learn about new black bear dens throughout the area.
Officials said bears typically den in rock crevices, tree cavities, or under heavy brush or fallen trees, and added that the thousands of New York hikers and hunters who cover hundreds of miles could be a great asset in finding the dens.
There have been scattered bear sightings in Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam and northern Westchester counties as well as Connecticut since the summer, DEC and police departments in the area have reported, including within the last two weeks.
Once a den is found, the bears may be fitted with a radio collar to help biologists track the bears' activities throughout the rest of the year and to relocate dens in subsequent years for monitoring cub production, condition, and survival, the agency added.
Since female bears generally give birth in January or early February, a high-pitched squeal from the cubs may be audible if near a den.
DEC urges anyone who finds a bear den to not approach or disturb the den, but simply to note the location and move away from the site and contact their local DEC Wildlife office with specifics about the den location, including GPS coordinates if possible.
A list of regional wildlife offices is available on DEC's website. The local office for area counties can be reached at 845-256-3098.
More information about black bears in New York is available at DEC's Black Bear web page.
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