It is early, but there have been black bears spotted wandering around in parts of our region.

Adriana Pacitto is the natural resources ministry’s assistant outreach specialist in the Northeast.  She says lots of snow – such as we had this winter – usually keeps the bears hibernating in their dens.

“However, bears occasionally get flooded out of the dens from melting snow and rain,” she says. “But if that’s the situation, if a bear gets flooded out, it’ll usually find a temporary alternative den site.”

That half-awake bear isn’t likely looking for a picnic basket, either.

“From the time that they come out of hibernation until berry crops are available,” Pacitto explains, “ bears actually live off of their stored fat as well as some limited energy that is provided by some of the fresh spring greens.”

The same safety tips about a close encounter with a bear apply as any time of the year: make a lot of noise and keep your dog on a leash if you suspect there is a bear nearby.

“Bears don’t want to see us just as much as we don’t want to see them.  So if they know that you’re in the area, they’ll try to avoid you as best as possible,” says Pacitto.

Pacitto has another sign that it is, indeed, early. “Bear Wise bear line reporting will be open as of April 1st until November 30th and if you do see a bear, you can report it at 1-866-514-2327.”

Here’s a link to the Bear Wise website.