As the temperatures warm up, the number of bear sightings is rising.
Over this past weekend, a bear was spotted in a woman’s yard in Martin. In addition, a bear was hit and killed by a truck on Falls road last week.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Scott Frazier said bear sightings are not uncommon at this time of the year as the bears begin to travel, looking for food.
Frazier said a number of things around a home have the potential to attract bears looking for something to eat.
“Generally, the top attractants for bears are household garbage and bird seed,” said Frazier. “Those are probably one and two. Pet food is probably a close third.”
Frazier said that if a bear begins appearing in a neighborhood, homeowners should make sure they are not leaving out a potential food source to attract the bear.
“If it is (available), they need to make that food unavailable to the bear,” said Frazier. “If it is something they can pick up, remove it. If they can put it inside of a locked building, they can lock it up. They can haul it off. They can do anything they can to remove it to prevent that bear from coming back repeatedly.”
According to Frazier, the problem with bears can be when they find a food source and return over and over again, they can begin to become more aggressive at that point.
Things people can do to help not attract bears include using bear-proof garbage containers, securing garbage inside a garage or other enclosed area, placing garbage cans out for pick-up the day it is picked up and not the night before or disposing of it at a dump site immediately, removing food scraps from grills and fire pits daily, keeping garbage cans as clean as possible, and rinsing food cans and wrappers before disposal.
The DNR also has advised homeowners in known bear areas to bring pet food indoors and remove birdfeeders during spring and late summer.
Meanwhile, Frazier said that if you do see a bear around your home, you should not confront it, but instead try to make sure it has a bad experience.
“If a person can make a loud noise, can do something that causes significant movement or scares the bear, trigger their car alarm, anything of that nature that spooks the bear and makes it run off some distance,” said Frazier. “That is an indication that it had a bad experience and is frightened. That is a good thing.”
According to Frazier, if a bear has a positive experience, it is more likely to return.
As for those planting gardens this year, Frazier said those planting corn should be particularly cautious as corn tends to attract bears.
“People having a lot of bear activity should maybe consider not planting corn or planting it away from the other corps, or protecting it with some type of electrified fence,” said Frazier.
Frazier said that if you spot an aggressive bear, contact the Department of Natural Resources at 770-535-5700.