(WFXR) — You will want to secure your picnic baskets, garbage, and recycling bins.
The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) says encounters between black bears and people are on the rise. Typically black bears are found in heavily forested areas in North America. The DWR states that there are approximately 900,000 black bears and they are seeing an increase in sightings in the mid-Atlantic to the Southeast, including across the Commonwealth.
The DWR put together the map below that shows where bears are mainly seen throughout Virginia.
As bears roam throughout the Commonwealth, you could be seeing them popping up in your front and backyards. The DWR has some helpful tips to keep you safe at home to help reduce the chances of making bears repeat visitors.
If you aren’t sure what foods are attracting the bears the DWR can help you identify any additional food that you may have on your property.
The DWR also emphasizes that bears can appear while you are camping with friends or family. To help keep your chances low of an encounter the DWR has these tips.
The DWR says if you hear a bear or other animals outside of your tent you want to use a firm, monotone voice to scare the animal away. However, if a bear manages to enter your tent, fight back and yell.
Here are also other helpful tips you can use if you run into a black bear that is listed on the DWR website.
However, if you have encountered a bear problem and have taken appropriate steps, then call the Wildlife Conflict Helpline at 855-571-9003.