Environmental officials issue warning about hungry bears


PROVIDENCE, R.I. – State environmental officials are asking residents to remove potential food sources from their properties as black bears emerge from hibernation.

 The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management says increasing bear populations in Connecticut and Massachusetts have led to more frequent sightings in Rhode Island, especially in rural areas of Providence, Kent and Washington counties.

The department received the first report of a black bear Tuesday at a backyard bird feeder in West Greenwich.

It says given the scarcity of food in the spring, black bears may visit bird feeders, beehives, chicken coops, rabbit hutches and compost piles, searching for food.

The department says black bears are generally shy and will avoid interactions with humans, though they can become dependent on readily available backyard food sources and quickly become a nuisance.