As the weather warms, black bears are waking up and coming out of their dens to find food, and plenty of it after months of sleeping.
In fact, bear sightings have already been reported across the region, and wildlife experts are reminding residents of the best way to deal with the bears as humans move more into their native habitat.
The bear population is healthy and increasing and sightings are becoming more common, especially in neighborhoods because food sources are abundant and easy to access, think birdfeeders, garbage cans, grills, etc.
Officials say once a bear finds a good food source they will keep returning over and over again. And, bears that are attracted to human food sources, they tend to lose their fear of people.
The best way to avoid having bears visit your backyard or garage or deck is to take steps now to remove anything that will draw them to your residence.
A huge draw for black bears is bird feed, which some experts say is like a drug to bears. Another is all the goodies found in unsecured compost bins and garbage cans.
The big fear of experts is that people will also lose their fear of bears when they are commonplace.
But bears are wild animals and will attack if they feel threatened, especially if a mother is protecting her cubs or looking for food for them. Sadly, if a bear behaves in a way that is threatening it may have to be euthanized.
Last year a resident was attacked by a bear in his garage when he left a door open with garbage cans inside.
If you see a black bear in your yard, experts say to enjoy watching from a distance but be sure you don't do anything to attract the bear. If the bear comes to close, they suggest making noise such as banging pots and pans or shouting. If the bear is aware of you and does not flee after making noise, talk to it in a calm voice and back away slowly.
Officials said to never run or climb a tree. If the bear approaches, be offensive. Make more noise, wave your arms, and throw objects at the bear. And although black bears rarely attack humans, if you are attacked, they said to fight back with anything available.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection offered the following tips:
- DO remove birdfeeders and bird food from late March through November.
- DO eliminate food attractants by placing garbage cans inside a garage or shed. Add ammonia to trash to make it unpalatable.
- DO clean and store grills in a garage after use.
- DON'T intentionally feed bears.
- DON'T leave pet food outside.
- DON'T let pets run alone in the yard during bear season.
For those who love a good bear sighting, taking photos is fine as long as it is from a distance. Never approach a bear to take a photo. If you do get a get shot, send your photos to Daily Voice.
Experts are also looking for residents to help them keep track of bears by reporting their sightings to the state. In Connecticut, bear sightings can be reported HERE. In New York, residents can sign up HERE to become a iSeeMammals member and report sightings.
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