DEC warns of wandering bears, issues tips to avoid contact

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It has been one year and one month since a black bear was spotted scurrying around North James Street, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation has tips for reducing any contact with the dangerous animals.

DEC officials said conflicts between people and bears typically increase in the summer due to the dispersal of young bears from family groups, the onset of the breeding season and a lull in natural food supply because local berries haven’t ripened yet.

This leads to young bears heading deeper into people territory in search of food, including garbage cans, bird feeders, messy grills and pet food.

“Black bears have recently been reported in a number of suburban locations,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos in a release.

In the early morning hours of June 7, 2018, police said a black bear was spotted running along North James Street. Responding officers found it up a tree near St. Peter’s Church, and they were advised by the DEC to leave it be. The bear was gone by morning.

DEC officials said bears will avoid large groups of people, and city residents should leave any bears they see alone. They are known to leave urban areas on their own — unless they find a reliable source of human food. Intentionally feeding bears is a crime in New York State, officials said.

And the DEC has tips on how to make your home and campsite safer.

At home:

Remove all bird feeders.

Keep garbage, grills, pet food and bird seed inside a solid, secure structure like a shed or garage.

If a grill cannot be secured inside, move it away from the house and remove the grease trap after each use.

Put garbage on the curb the morning of collection, not the night before.

At camp:

Clean up immediately after all meals, and keep grills, pots, pans, utensils and wash basins clean when not in use.

Keep coolers and food inside car trunks or truck cabs, with food kept inside coolers and food lockers.

Never leave food, coolers, scented items or toiletries in tents.

Do not throw grease, garbage, plastic diapers, cans, bottles or other refuse into the fire.

If you encounter a bear:

Don’t panic. Most bears are just as afraid of you as you are of them.

Never approach, surround or corner a bear.

Back away slowly. Do not run.

Do not throw backpacks or food at bears. If they are given food, they will continue to seek food from people.

If feeling threatened by a bear, raise your arms over your heard to look bigger and yell loudly, while also backing away slowly.

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