PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) reminds residents to remove potential food sources from their properties as black bears emerge from hibernation. Increasing bear populations in the region have led to more frequent sightings – especially in rural areas of Providence, Kent and Washington counties.
Given the scarcity of food in the spring, black bears may visit bird feeders, beehives, chicken coops, rabbit hutches, and compost piles in search of food. Black bears are generally shy and will avoid interactions with humans. However, they can become dependent on backyard food sources, if readily available, and quickly become a nuisance. Black bears have an excellent sense of smell and will investigate odors they identify as an easy meal – and will regularly frequent a site once a food source is identified. The public is reminded to:
• Remove bird feeders by early April, and wait until early November to put them up. • Refrain from feeding pets outside, and if you do, take pet food dishes inside at night. • Store birdseed, livestock feed, and garbage in buildings. • Take garbage out for pickup on the morning of collection – not the night before. • Keep barbecue grills clean of grease. And do not put meat or sweet food scraps in your compost pile. • Use electric fencing around chicken coops, beehives, rabbit hutches, and livestock pens. • Move livestock into barns at night. • DO NOT FEED BEARS.
If a black bear is spotted on private property, people are advised to:
• Report the sighting to DEM's Division of Law Enforcement at 222-3070. DEM is working closely with local police to track bear sightings and complaints and educate people on how to safely coexist with bears. • Do not panic. Bears are rarely aggressive towards people and will often leave on their own. After the bear leaves the area, food sources or any other item of attraction should be removed from the yard. • Do not run away if you surprise a bear. Walk away slowly while facing the bear. In Rhode Island, black bears are protected animals. Intentionally feeding or shooting a bear is illegal.
For more information on black bears or DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.