As warmer temperatures creep into Southern New England, black bears are expected to creep out of hibernation and come looking for food.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management sent out a warning Tuesday for residents to be “bear aware.”
There have been black bear sightings, the DEM says, in rural Providence, Kent and Washington Counties. They may be going after food in bird feeders, beehives, chicken coops, or even compost piles and garbage cans.
Though black bears will usually avoid an interaction with a human, they can become dependent on backyard food sources and start frequenting a site once they identify a regular food source.
- More Details from RI DEM: Wildlife Facts and Resources
The department recommends removing bird feeders during warmer months and keeping birdseed stored inside as well as livestock feed and garbage. They encourage keeping garbage inside until the morning when it’s collected.
If you do spot a black bear on private property, the DEM recommends: Do not panic. Bears will often leave on their own. Do not run away; walk away slowly while facing the bear.
Electric fencing is also recommended for livestock pens.