After the long win­ter we have had here in the north­east, spring­time is a very wel­come change of sea­son. Spring is a time of new begin­nings and this year is no dif­fer­ent… but with the new begin­nings comes wildlife inter­ac­tions that sub­ur­ban­ites may not have had last year. Head­lines and nixle alert like this one here are giv­en for good rea­son. Bears are just com­ing out of their dens and look­ing for food… plus, young bears that have just left the safe­ty of their moth­er are look­ing for new ter­ri­to­ry. This increas­es the chances of see­ing bears where they haven’t been seen before, even in a down­town area or in your sub­ur­ban back­yard.  For sub­ur­ban­ites who may not have dealt with bears or even seen one in the wild before, a bear encounter can be a fright­en­ing expe­ri­ence.  Black bear attacks are very rare but below is a list of pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures to avoid an encounter and steps you can take to pro­tect your­self, your prop­er­ty, and your ani­mals from a bad encounter.

1. Sign up for nixle alerts. Areas where a bear sight­ing is a nov­el­ty or where chil­dren may be present will send out an alert when one is sight­ed in the area

2. Mon­i­tor your ani­mals while they are out­side, even in a fenced in yard. Install lights in your yard if you don’t have them already

3. Do not feed or approach a bear (or any wild ani­mal). If your garbage is ran­sacked or out­door pet food is eat­en, move it inside to avoid a repeat

4. Remain calm and make the bear aware of your pres­ence by speak­ing in a calm, assertive voice

5. Make sure the bear has an escape route

6. Make as much noise as pos­si­ble by yelling, blow­ing a horn, rat­tling met­al garbage cans, etc to scare away the bear. Make your­self look as big as pos­si­ble by wav­ing your arms. If you are with some­one else, stand close togeth­er with your arms raised above your head.

7. Don’t Run!!! Behav­ior that you may inter­pret as aggres­sive (huffs, pop­ping sounds, stand­ing on hind legs, mov­ing clos­er) may be a bluff or a warn­ing… or sim­ple curi­ousi­ty. Slow­ly back away and avoid direct eye con­tact.

8. Find shel­ter such as a house, behind a fence, etc to cre­ate a bar­ri­er the bear must break through. A bear is a big, strong ani­mal and can get through doors but hav­ing a bar­ri­er can give you time to escape.

9. Nev­er approach a moth­er with cubs. She is more like­ly to lead her cubs away, but a moth­er bear may attack to pro­tect her young.

10. In a worst case sce­nario, if you are attacked, fight back. Black bears are not like their brown cousins…they will not just maul you, they are attack­ing to kill. Try to aim for eyes sock­ets with your fin­gers.

Bears aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly some­thing to be feared, get out of the house and enjoy nature… but some pre­cau­tions should be tak­en to avoid prob­lems.  Have a great spring!

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