CLEVELAND — With the summer upon us, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is warning residents in Northeast Ohio to keep a lookout for bears and is sharing ways to bear-proof their yards.
Black bear sightings increase during the summer months as young males wander around looking to claim new territory and will often be seen by or interact with humans during their trek to find a new habitat.
“We see this every year,” Jamey Emmert, spokeswoman with the Division of Wildlife District 3 headquarters in Coventry Township, told News 5 media partner Ohio.com.
Ohio’s black bear population is estimated to be anywhere from 50-100 bears, according to ODNR’s Division of Wildlife.
Wildlife experts say there are several ways to keep a bear from becoming a “problem bear,” which is defined as a bear that has lost its natural fear of human and regularly causes damage to property while in search of food.
Here are ways to bear-proof your backyard:
- Remove bird feeders and other wildlife feeders
- Store trash either in the garage or inside secured containers
- Keep pet food inside, especially at night
- Clean out grease traps from grills after each use. Store grills in garage or the shed after use.
- If you have beehives, place electric fencing around beehives
- Pick fruit from berry bushes as soon as possible
If you happen to encounter a bear, here's what you should do:
- Act calm and do not run
- Warn the bear that you are near; talk in a firm, calm voice
- Allow space between you and the bear. Step away slowly. Do not make the bear feel trapped or threatened.
- Raise your hands above your head to appear large if the bear approaches. Clap your hands or shout to scare the bear away
- Exit the area