Black bears recently emerged from their dens in southeastern Kentucky and are now on the prowl for food. Landowners in bear country can take some simple precautions to prevent problems with these animals.
“Male bears are beginning to roam extensively, looking for females as breeding season is about to begin,” said Steven Dobey, bear biologist for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “When they do that, they come in contact with people. With all of these bears out roaming, people should be mindful of food attractants around their home.”
Garbage, food scraps, pet food and even bird feeders attract hungry bears looking for an easy meal. “People can prevent 99 percent of all human-bear conflicts by removing access to these attractants,” Dobey said.
Dobey recommends some simple preventive methods to keep bears from coming near your home or property. Don’t leave garbage outside overnight. Instead, wait until the morning of pick-up to put it out. Avoid throwing food scraps outside to feed wildlife or pets.
You should always store pet food inside. If you have an outside pet, put only enough food for one meal at a time. If you see bears in your area, take down any bird feeders for one week.
“If you are camping, picnicking, hiking or fishing and leave your vehicle unattended, store food in the trunk,” Dobey said. “Don’t leave it on the seat or floorboard.”
The worst thing people can do is feed a bear. “People haven’t seen bears in a couple of months, but do not let the desire to see a bear or photograph a bear lure you into feeding the bear,” Dobey said.
Feeding a bear can teach it to lose its fear of humans. A bear that is aggressive toward people likely will be euthanized.
Bear sightings and nuisance complaints have risen considerably in recent weeks. By taking some simple precautions, residents can avoid making bears a nuisance.