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Watch out for bears

Posted on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 12:08 pm

A black bear has been making house calls in King George, and according to reports, it tends to get rough with bird feeders, often leaving them damaged.

In many cases, bears encountered in this area are dispersers—younger bears that have left a larger population to set up new territory. But “it’s not out of reason to expect that there may be resident bears in that area,” said Nelson Lason, manager of deer, bear and turkey at Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Over the last 10 years, bears have started to fill in the middle of the state. King George, the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula area have been some of the last areas to see bears. But “it’s likely that in the future there will be more bears in that area,” Lason added.

Sightings are most likely to occur in the spring, which is a critical time for bears. When they come out of the den, they’re looking for food, but most of the berries and other natural foods they eat won’t ripen until the summer.

When a bear’s in the neighborhood

Initially, bears are attracted to residential areas because of the food people have outside of their homes. Bears have a strong sense of smell and a very varied diet. They’re drawn to bird feeders, garbage, beehives and pet food. Grills, livestock feeds and compost will also attract them.

In Virginia, it is illegal to feed bears deliberately or inadvertently. So, if a bear is in the area, residents are required by law to deter it by removing attractants and denying it access to food sources.

Take down your bird feeders, and avoid storing garbage where the bears can access it unless it’s in a bear-proof container. Clean or burn off your grill and avoid dumping the drippings in your yard. Remove ripe fruit from the trees or around them. And use deterrents, such as electric fencing to contain agricultural elements, like beehives and gardens.

For the full article, pick up the latest Westmoreland News 6/12/19