Spring has brought black bears out of their nests after the long, cold winter, and Wildlife Conservation Officers are reminding residents to do their part to keep animals away from residential areas.
“Bears are starting to come out of their dormancy and look for food,” Wildlife Conservation Officer Amy Nabozny, information and education supervisor at the state Gaming Commission’s southern central regional office, said. “When bears first came out of dormancy, their natural food sources weren’t available. Because of this, they tend to go to settlements and find food in trash bins or bird feeders. “
One of the most common misconceptions behind black bears is that they remain in a period of inactivity throughout the winter. However, Nabozny stated that this is not true and that there are times when the bears do not sleep during the winter.
“Female bears will usually stay in their den during the winter, but if the winters are warm and warm, male bears can leave their dormant phase and go in search of food. “Most people believe the bears will go into dormancy due to the weather, but that’s not true,” said Nabozny. “Bears usually go into a dormant period because their food source is scarce or missing. Thankfully, we’re having winter, so I’m sure most bears remain dormant this winter. “
Nabozny said that one of the most important things residents can do to keep bears away from settlements is to have no outside sources of food.
“People have to make sure their bird feeding grounds are safe or keep them away so bears can’t come to them,” he said. “I would also recommend taking out your trash early in the morning on trash day and not leaving it overnight. If residents can’t do that, I would recommend soaking a cloth in ammonia and hanging it near a trash can. Ammonia is a pretty big deterrent for bears. “
Although black bears are not aggressive, Nabozny recommends that people keep their distance when seen.
“Black bears are very passive and not aggressive. First of all I would recommend someone to take a look, do not disturb and keep your distance. However, if someone surprised a bear, they would want to make themselves known. Be boisterous and loud, but don’t look directly at them. They should also get out of that location but don’t turn away from the bear. “
While the state Gaming Commission can trap a bear, they usually won’t unless the bear is a nuisance.
“We don’t usually trap a bear if he’s just picking up trash or feeding the birds. However, if the bear is constantly harassing, or has killed livestock, we will trap him. We recommend that people first take steps such as removing food sources before we trap them. “