Spring brings increased bear activity in Virginia

(© Mike – stock.adobe.com)

The spring months are a busy time for wildlife, especially black bears as they emerge from their winter dens hungry and in search of an easy meal.

During this time of increased activity it is important for homeowners to secure unnatural food sources to reduce bear encounters on their property.

Natural foods are scarce this time of year, so bears will look for the easiest source of food. Often these sources may be your garbage, compost pile, barbeque grills and pet food stored outside.

“The goal is to not make human sources of food easier for a bear to acquire than what nature provides – especially food that is high in fat and calories,” said Nelson Lafon, Forest Wildlife Manager for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Bears are naturally cautious of humans, but they can overcome their wariness if people reward them with food – intentionally or unintentionally. Although bears may appear sluggish and thin during this time of the year you should never attempt to feed a black bear found on your property.

Take the following steps to avoid attracting black bears to your homes

  • Never feed or approach
  • Clean and secure attractants including: garbage, food, grills, recycling
  • Remove pet or livestock food from areas accessible to wildlife
  • Take down bird feeders including seed and hummingbird feeders
  • Clean up fallen fruit
  • Avoid storing food in your vehicle

“By following these steps, people can prevent most problems with bears,” said Lafon. “Our staff respond to hundreds of situations involving bears every year, and most are due to these attractants.”

For more information on black bears in Virginia, please visit the DGIF website and learn how you can do your part to keep bears wild: https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear/

If a bear has a visible injury, appears mange-infested, or has been seen in the same location for more than 12 hours, please contact the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Wildlife Conflict Helpline, toll free at 1-855-571-9003 or if after normal business hours your local Sheriff’s office.

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