During this time of year, more bears are on the move. They are coming out of their winter dens hungry and in search of an easy meal. That is why it is important for homeowners to secure all potential food to reduce bear encounters on their property.
Natural foods can be scarce during the early spring, so bears often look for easy places to get food. That can be in trash cans or pet food that is left out.
That is why the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources wants to remind everyone to secure their garbage. You should keep it locked or inside a shed until collected. The Wildlife Department also recommends making your trash can bear-resistant.
Carl Tugend, a statewide bear project leader, says, “We have a way that you can modify your can if your waste hauler is okay with it, that you put those on certain points of your lid and attach them to the base of the can and then you fasten them with a carabiner clip or something.”
He also recommends taking down bird feeders this time of year because they are an easy way for bears to end up on your property.
According to the Department of Wildlife Resources, one area that most people forget about is their grill. You should clean your grill after every use and remove any potential food or grease that can be left on them.
Lastly, remember that a screened-in porch is not a secure storage area. From a bear’s point of view, if they are hungry, they will find a way to get in.
If you ever do come across a bear, The Virginia Department of Wildlife says the most important thing to remember is to not run. Bears are predators, and if they see something run, they might have the natural instinct to chase it.
Tugend says it is important to not panic and to speak sternly.
“What you should do, is make yourself look big. Slowly back out of the area. Don’t get frantic and start screaming. If you are being chaotic, it may create a situation that becomes chaotic. So stay calm,” says Tugend.
This is also the time of year when females with cubs begin to explore. During this time, cubs can be separated from their moms. If you see a cub, you should leave it alone and just watch from a safe distance.
The Department of Wildlife also says if you see a bear on your property, never attempt to handle or capture it. You can always contact the Wildlife helpline at 855-571-9003.