Black bears are back - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Black bears are back

NORTHAMPTON, MA (WSHM) -

This month's warmer weather temperature means black bears are now out of their dens and onto the streets searching for food.

Over the years, black bear sightings have become increasingly common in Massachusetts. 

Just a decade ago, representatives from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife said there were around 1,500 black bears in Massachusetts. There are now more than 4,500 in the state.

Out of all of the communities here in Western Mass, biologists told CBS 3 that they receive the most phone calls from Northampton residents about black bears in their backyards.

"We've had bears in our yards just about every year," said Bob Ghazey, a Northampton resident.

Last summer, the city instituted a law that made it illegal to feed these bears. Under the law, residents are required to remove food supplies including bird feeders, compost piles and garbage cans, if they become a primary source of food for the furry creatures.

If residents violate the law, they could be slapped with as much as a $100 fine for even the first offense.

Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife representatives have some tips to help keep bears at bay.

"The best thing to do is to remove the food supplies so whether it's bird feeders, or whether it's a compost pile, or whether it's a dumpster without a locking lid. There are a lot of apartments where we see have plastic lids... bears can go right through plastic lids," said Ralph Taylor, district manager for the Massachusetts division of fisheries and wildlife in Western Mass.

Taylor only expects these black bear populations to grow here in Massachusetts in years to come.

"The number is dramatically increasing and it will continue to increase, because we really haven't reached a saturation for bears," Taylor said. "The increase is because they can find food and they do well. So as long as they can find food and shelter and they can find mates, their population will keep increasing."

Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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