As summer starts, so does the bear breeding season and folks are encouraged to look for bears searching for food, according to Bert Einodshofer, information and education supervisor for the southcentral region of the state Game Commission.
“Instances of sightings go up (this time of year), and this is the peak time of year for bear complaints,” he said. “Bears are mating and dispersing from late June into July.”
As the breeding season begins, mother bears will be pushing out cubs that are now between 1 and 1.5 years old, he explained.
“A lot of the bears seen are the young bears pushed out of where they are raised to find their own home territory,” Einodshofer said. “Those are the ones that get in trouble, wandering to find and establish their home range.”
Most of the bears are looking for food.
“Food sources are a huge thing this time of year,” he said, adding, “it’s not necessary to feed birds this time of year.”
He explained that this time of year bears are looking for the easiest food sources. Once they find one, they will not leave until the food source is depleted. That can be a bird feeder, an uncleaned grill or a trash source.
“If your grill is outside and you don’t clean it off properly, the smells and the grease can attract a bear,” he said. “Or any outdoor garbage, dog food or cat food, any attractant like that needs to be contained.”
He said those items should be brought inside a home or locked garage, as just covering them is not enough.
“Even an outdoor shed somewhere, like a storage shed, the bear can break into it if it wants to,” he said. “We have instances of that every year.”
The reason bears are so interested in food is because the wild food they would normally eat has not quite reached season yet, Einodshofer said.
“It’s nice and green but, while the bears will eat the vegetation, (they’re waiting for) the blueberries and huckleberries,” he said. “That’s a huge attraction for bears, (along with) raspberries.” The bears will be less prevalent around August, when crops are growing enough and the nuts and acorns offer easy to access food for them, he explained.
Since mating season is only beginning, Einodshofer said there is little danger of mothers with young cubs. Most of the bears about will be the ones who are just leaving their mother.
“If that’s the case, if you run into a bear, the best thing to do is to make yourself louder and bigger than the bear,” he said. “Basically, scare them away.”
Bears are also more often killed on roadways this time of year. Einodshofer said the Game Commission recently heard about one killed on the road in the York and Cumberland county line, but it was gone before the warden could pick it up.
Einodshofer said unlike deer, bears cannot be legally picked up by citizens. They can be purchased from the Game Commission in certain scenarios, such as during fur bear hunting season if the individual has a license, but otherwise they should be left for the Game Commission.
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