Spring is here, and the black bears are waking up hungry. Occasionally, some migrate into residential areas in search of food. 

Locally there have been a couple of black encounters. First In Little Falls, a 150 to 200-pound black bear was spotted in the area of Ward Street and Petrie Street. Then, a 200-ponund black bear climbed a tree in a residential area of Cortland. According to WKTV, it was tranquilized and unfortunately died later at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

These situations are tough for everyone involved. There are things we can do to deter this from happening. According to the DEC, New York is home to 6,000 to 7,000 bears all looking for an easy meal this time of year. They're starving. It's very important for bears to get their food from wild sources because easy human food sources will create an awful predicament that won't end well for the bear.

Follow these simple steps provided by the NY DEC to do your part in keeping the community safe.

  • Never feed bears! It is illegal, dangerous and detrimental to bears.
  • If you believe bears are being fed in your area, or suspect a nuisance bear situation, report it to DEC immediately.
  • Take down bird feeders after April 1. Birds do not need supplemental food in the spring and summer when natural foods are most abundant (even if you believe your birdfeeder to be inaccessible to bears, the birds will drop the seed on the ground, which attracts bears to your yard).
  • Clean off barbecue grill before nightfall (don't forget the grease trap), and if possible, store grill inside when not in use.
  • Store garbage in a secure building or location, secure can lid with ropes/bungees/chains; never over-fill cans, and dispose of garbage as frequently as possible.
  • If you live in an area where bears may occur, put garbage containers out by the curb just before the scheduled pickup - never the night before.
  • If you live in a densely populated bear area, consider using a certified bear-resistant garbage container.
  • Clean garbage cans frequently with ammonia products.
  • Do not burn garbage: it is illegal and can attract bears.
  • Do not add meat scraps, bones or melon rinds to your compost pile.
  • Feed pets indoors and store pet food indoors. If pets must be fed outside, immediately remove all uneaten food and dishes.

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