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Police warn residents of black bear sightings

That birdseed hanging outside your home may attract more than a cardinal or robin, and that goes for your trash cans, too, as hungry black bears have become increasingly active and are looking for an easy lunch in the area.

The Bethlehem Police Department has issued a warning to area homeowners: Keep your garbage contained and cut back on the birdseed.

Animal Control officers have recently received reports of bear sightings in the southern end of town, according to police.

Proper storage of garbage and the removal of bird feeders during periods when bears are active are the two most important steps you can take to drastically reduce nuisance bear problems in your area, stated the release. "Birdseed and garbage are favorite foods for bears. In many case, bears will choose them instead of natural food sources."

The following are steps that can be taken to prevent bear problems in addition to maintaining safety:

Store garbage in cans or Dumpsters and keep them in a secure place like in the garage.

Put garbage out only on the morning of pickup. Burning and composting of garbage may attract bears.

Feed birds only from Dec. 1 until March 1. During the rest of the year, you may be attracting more bears than birds.

Police cautioned people to remain calm if a bear is spotted, and that "bears are more likely to be afraid of you than you are of them." Never approach, surround, or attempt to touch a bear.

Always leave an escape route for the bear and back away and do not run from the wild animal. If the bear keeps coming back or will not leave, police said, make loud noises such as yelling, clapping or blowing your car horns.

"The Adirondack region in the Northern Bear Range is home to the largest black bear population in New York state, between 4,000 to 5,000 bears," according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. "The Catskill region in the Southern Bear Range contains the second largest population, between 1,500 to 2,000."

The Capital District lies directly between the Catskills and Adirondack regions.

For information on black bears go to: www.dec.ny.gov. ""

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