DEM reminding residents on being “bear aware”
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Black bears are waking up from hibernation during the warm weather and are looking for outside food sources in Rhode Island.
The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is reminding Rhode Islanders to remove potential food sources from their backyards as it may attract dangerous animals.
So far this year, there has been eight confirmed black bear sightings. These include one sighting each in Exeter, North Smithfield, and Richmond, two in West Warwick, and three in South Kingstown.
Black bears are typically shy and unaggressive towards humans. Until their food resources become more available in the spring. However, black bears can be destructive when scavenging from trash cans and visiting bird feeders, beehives, chicken coops, rabbit hutches, and compost piles in search for food. Black bears have an excellent sense of smell, and will investigate odors they identify as an easy meal, and will regularly revisit a site once a food source is identified.
DEM reminds the public to become “bear aware” by:
o Removing bird feeders by early April and waiting until early November to put them back up.
o Refraining from feeding pets outside, or if you do, taking pet food dishes inside at night.
o Storing birdseed, livestock feed, and garbage in buildings.
o Taking garbage out for pickup on the morning of collection – not the night before.
o Keeping barbecue grills clean of grease. Do not put meat or sweet food scraps in your compost pile.
o 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
o Do not panic. Bears are rarely aggressive toward 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.
o Do not run away if you surprise a bear. Walk away slowly while facing the bear. Make noise and let it
know you are there by shouting something at it. In Rhode Island, black bears are protected animals.
Intentionally feeding or shooting a bear is illegal.