The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reminds residents and visitors that black bears are beginning a period of increased feeding activity in preparation for winter hibernation. Black bears in Maryland are concentrated in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington counties.

During this time, bears may become more attracted to human-provided food sources, which can lead to them losing their natural fear of people. This in turn can lead to human-bear encounters that can be dangerous for both people and bears. Natural foods such as acorns and hickory nuts are not as abundant throughout Maryland’s bear country this year, which can increase a bear’s travel distance and willingness to search for foods close to people.

“Keeping birdseed, pet food, and trash stored inside a garage or other secure area is the best way to keep potential food sources out of reach from wandering bears,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said. “Marylanders should also delay filling and hanging bird feeders outside until winter to avoid attracting bears.”

Since bears may travel many miles in search of food, motorists traveling in Maryland’s western counties, especially Allegany and Garrett, are reminded to watch for them crossing roads, especially during October and November. Bears will begin entering dens in mid-November. Most will be inside dens by mid-December.

More information about living with black bears can be found online or by calling 410-260-8540 or 301-777-2136.

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