Black bears reemerge in Maryland

Yeah, they might be looking for your pic-a-nic basket. But it ain’t Yogi you need to be worried about.

Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources is out with a fresh warning this month that black bears in the state are heading out from their winter dens.

“As they emerge, they are hungry and searching for food,” the DNR said in a release. “Natural food sources for bears — such as acorns, plants, berries and insects — are in short supply until later in the spring, so the bears are attracted to anything that smells like food.”

That means people need to be wary of what they leave out.

According to the DNR, the bears are most commonly found in Maryland’s four westernmost counties: Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington.

But “they can be found anywhere in central and Southern Maryland, particularly during spring when young male bears tend to wander into new areas looking for a chance to establish their own territory.”

Some advice from the DNR:

  • Lock your garbage in a bear-proof trash bin or store trash containers in a locked garage or shed until the morning of trash pickup;
  • Rinse out trash containers with ammonia to eliminate odors;
  • Store cooking grills inside and keep them clean of food residue;
  • Remove backyard bird feeders from April through November (birds have plenty of wild food sources during this time).

“Keeping bears wild is a community effort that benefits bears and people,” said Wildlife and Heritage Director Paul Peditto. “Using care to avoid attracting bears now will help keep them away throughout the year and ensure they remain in the wild.”

The DNR has more tips for living with black bears online.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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