Now is the time whenblack bearsare emerging from their dens, after a long winter slumber, in a search for food and subsidence.

However due to the fact that natural food sources, such as berries, insects and plants are still in short supply in early spring, bears may become more easily attracted to artificial and human-generated food sources.

TheMaryland Department of Natural Resourcesurges residents to remove all potential bear attractants.

Specific recommendations include:

  • Locking garbage in a bear-proof trash bin or storing trash containers in a locked garage or shed;
  • Rinsing out trash containers with ammonia to eliminate odors;
  • Storing cooking grills inside or keeping them clean of food residue; and
  • Removing backyard bird-feeders April through November (birds have plenty of wild food sources during this time).

“Keeping bears wild is a community effort that benefits people as well as our largest native mammals,”Wildlife and Heritage ServiceDirector Paul Peditto said. “Using care to avoid attracting bears now will help keep them wild and everyone as safe as possible throughout the year.”

Black bears are most common in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties, but they can also be seen dispersing and traveling throughout much of Maryland in the spring and summer months.

More information on living with bears is availableonline.Any bear-related issues or questions can be directed to 301-777-2136.