It’s prime time for backyard bear sightings

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — As warm spring temperatures become more consistent, the possibility of spotting a black bear in your neighborhood increases.

“At this time, we’re having bears emerge from their dens, and when they do so, they’re pretty hungry,” said Travis Lau, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Game Commission. “If they find an easy meal, they’re going to take it, whether that be bird feeders or backyard grills or pet food that might be left outside.”

Lau says in general, people shouldn’t fear bears, but awareness is crucial to preventing a negative interaction with wildlife.

“We just make sure at night to flip lights on and make noise and just make yourself heard,” said Sarah Snyder, whose Marysville home borders a large section of woods. “We enjoy having wildlife around. It’s one of the best parts of living here.”

According to the game commission’s website, Snyder’s habit of making noise before leaving the house or letting a pet outside is correct. Additionally, homeowners in bear country should refrain from leaving pet food or livestock feed outdoors, and store it in a container inside a closed building. Other tips include putting trash outside no earlier than on the morning it is to be collected and taking bird feeders inside at night.

The PGC also offers tips on how to react if you encounter a bear.

“In the spring, bears you might see are typically the local bear living nearby,” Lau said. “If you make your yard attractive to them once, they will probably return. Eventually, their natural fear of people fades and confrontations can occur.”

Lau stresses that it is illegal to intentionally feed wild black bears in Pennsylvania.

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