With warmer weather on the way, bear sightings are expected to start picking up.
"Once the weather warms up and we lose snow, then many of the bears will get up and start looking for food," said Paul Rego, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
While the snow in your front yard may be long gone, heavily forested areas where bears hibernate haven’t melted quite yet. But with a stretch of 60-degree days this week, Rego said he expects activity to pick up.
"Bears will be moving and it's a good time to think about putting your bird feeders away for the winter and rechecking that you're storing your trash very well," he said.
Natural foods in the early spring are very low in calories so bears go searching for more filling options closer to residents' homes. And if they find something they like, their presence shouldn’t come as a surprise.
"Those additional options just give them a more abundant and diverse diet,” Rego said. “So they're doing very well once they've adapted to our residential areas."
Something Dawn Massey who lives on Wood Pond Road in Farmington has noticed.
“There have been more bear sightings in the neighborhood,” Massey said. “And all of West Hartford and Farmington.”
And one sighting last summer came a little too close for comfort.
“One of my daughters was on the swing set in the back by herself and I was in the house and I happened to look out the window at the right time because there was a bear coming through the trees,” Massey said. “And it walked right past her and I looked and her face was just stunned.”
As the bear population continues to increase, bear sightings will become more common across parts of the state where they typically haven’t been seen before. So it’s important to remember that it is extremely rare for black bears to be aggressive towards humans, but some of our local bears that live in residential towns have gotten used to being around people.
"They may act more nonchalant than a wild bear should,” Rego said. “But at the same time, even with those bears it's very rare for them to be aggressive."
That's something that doesn't necessarily make Massy feel better about the bears in her neighborhood.
“I don’t know that I’ll ever be comfortable. It’s an animal and you just never know. But I am aware when we go outside I just always scan the yard first,” Massey said.