While winter is certainly hanging on until the very last second this year, evidenced by the snowfall this morning, warmer weather will be headed our way and with that New York homeowners may start to see black bears in their neighborhoods. According to the NY Department of Environmental Conservation, after all those months of hibernation bears now need to find food and in the process, they must often cross roads or pass through developed areas to get to their preferred habitat.

Oftentimes, bears will find human foods that are easy to get to if necessary precautions aren’t taken. If that happens at your house or your neighbor’s house, it may be hard to get rid of the bear and seeing a bear in your yard can be a frightening experience. At least it was for me a few years ago.

Obviously, not every bear that passes through neighborhoods is a problem bear, but you probably don't want them sticking around too long. Here are a few tips, from the NYSDEC on how to avoid encounters with these animals in your own yard.

  • Take down bird feeders. The birds don’t need them during the spring and summer when natural foods are most abundant (even if you believe your bird feeder to be inaccessible to bears, the birds will drop seed on the ground, which attracts bears to your yard).
  • Clean off barbeque grills before nightfall, and if possible, store grills inside when not in use.
  • Store garbage in a secure building or location, secure can lids with ropes/bungees/chains; never over-fill cans, and dispose of garbage as frequently as possible.
  • Don't add meat scraps, bones or melon rinds to your compost pile
  • Feed pets indoors and store pet food indoors. If pets must be fed outside, immediately remove all uneaten food and dishes.

To learn more about bears, or to report a problem, click here.

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