How to stay safe around bears waking up from hibernation

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DALLAS, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) The unseasonably warm winter has bears coming out of hibernation a lot earlier than expected. Eyewitness News stopped by the Pennsylvania Game Commission for the important information since spring is just around the corner.

“Certainty the weather has been conducive to bears coming out a little bit earlier this year. Generally the bears come out of hibernation when food starts popping up out of the ground. In the form of vegetation, grasses and especially this time of year skunk cabbage,” said William Williams, Information and Education Supervisor at the Pennsylvania Game Commission Northeast Region.

Bears have been sleeping for months so when they come out of hibernation they are looking for food.

“They’ve lost a tremendous amount of body weight. They haven’t eaten or drank anything for 6 months. They haven’t urinated or defecated in 6 months.” Williams tells Eyewitness News.

This leads bears to go after food that’s easy to get.

“Whatever food is available. That could be in the form of household trash maybe left out. Or bird feeders. It’s not uncommon to see bears getting into trouble with those two items this time of year,” Williams continued.

If you see a bear in your yard or on a hike do not be alarmed.

“If you encounter a bear, you want to make sure the bear is aware of your presence. Yell at it. Make yourself as big as possible and bears will turn and run away at that point,” Williams explained.

If you notice a bear is in your yard frequently or you’d like to keep them away, only put trash out the morning of garbage day and bring bird feeders in for a few weeks.

On Wednesday, the Game Commission will be in the Poconos tracking bear cubs to keep an eye on the bear population in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

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