The state Department of Environmental Conservation is offering residents some advice to avoid black bear encounters now that spring is here and the bears begin to come out of hibernation.
Bear populations will be looking around for food now that they have woken up, according to DEC Regional Wildlife Manager Mike Wasilco. Black bears will tend to wander into populated areas if there is food available for them, usually heightening around April and May.
“Anything that smells like food is going to attract bears this time of year,” said Wasilco. “They’re coming out of their dens, they’re going to be hungry. Especially if people have had problems in their areas in the past, the bears will likely be coming back looking. If the bears come and don't find any food, they’ll move onto other places.”
The number one thing residents can do is make sure there is nothing around their property the bears may find appetizing.
“The biggest thing is to remove any attractions in the yard,” said Wasilco. “Make sure the garbage is secure, that bird feeders are taken down, and not leaving pet food out overnight. If you’re grilling outside, you probably want to clean your grill and store the grill so bears can’t get to it. Anything that smells like food is going to attract bears this time of year.”
Wasilco said the bears don’t usually come after pets unless it feels it's being threatened.
“The bear will defend itself from a dog that’s going after it, but generally they’re going to kind of ignore cats and dogs and pets,” he said.
If a bear does come in one’s yard, a lot of noise will usually be enough to scare it off. But sometimes, assistance from police or the DEC is needed if the bear doesn’t want to budge.
“If you see a bear and you want to scare it off, you can make yourself look as big as possible and make a bunch of noise. A lot of times, that’s enough to get a lot of the bears to leave,” said Wasilco. “You can throw rocks at them, make noise, generally that’s what works. If that’s not working, at that point that may be a time to go back in the house and potentially let DEC or local police know so they can respond and come out and assess the situation.”
The DEC will host a meeting at Frederick Carder Elementary School at 6 p.m. Wednesday on how to avoid nuisance bear encounters.
For more information on black bear encounters, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/94710.html.