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Bear activity on the rise, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife say

While bears are often seen in eastern Kentucky, officials said they are known to roam across the state.
Credit: Anne Lindgren / Thinkstock
A young black bear cleanses its palate after finishing a meal of pink salmon at the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site in Hyder Alaska.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The arrival of spring means bear activity will be on the rise in Kentucky, and as the coronavirus pandemic has kept visitors away from our parks, wildlife experts say animals have started to come out of the shadows.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife said an increase in bear complaints often results from food. Garbage, open dumpsters and even food scraps can cause a major problem.

"Bears, which are normally reclusive, start to lose their fear of people when an easy meal becomes available," said John Hast, Bear Program Coordinator with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "These easy meals are what brings bears into yards and around houses, putting the public in danger of having a close bear encounter."

Fish and Wildlife said that while it is illegal to feed bears in Kentucky, areas around Pine and Black Mountains in eastern Kentucky have seen an increase in bear feeding. Biologists have had to remove bears from those areas in recent summers.

Officials also warned the state's bear population has continued to expand past the mountains and into other parts of the state in the spring and summer. A black bear was seen roaming Southern Indiana last year.

To avoid any bear problems, people in areas where bears are asked to:

  • Never leave pet food out overnight;
  • Remove birdfeeders in spring and summer when natural foods are available;
  • Keep grills clean and change drip pans frequently;
  • Throw food scraps in the trash, not in a yard or fire pit; and
  • Surround beehives with an electric fence, an effective bear deterrent.

For more information about bears in Kentucky, visit the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife website. To report bear feeding, call 1-800-25-ALERT or submit an anonymous tip by texting the keyword "KFWLAW" to TIP411 (847411).

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