NEW YORK (WETM) – Black bears across New York are coming out of their winter hibernations, and they’re hungry. With recent reports of a black bear roaming the streets of Horseheads and getting into the trash, the DEC is offering tips on how you can avoid attracting bears at your own home.

The DEC said that scraps from various items can readily attract hungry bears. These include spilled seeds from bird feeders, garbage, food grease, pet food, and even live animals like chickens or bees.

The DEC said it’s important to take the following steps to keep neighborhoods safe:

  • Clean up around bird feeders, and “let nature feed the birds” during warmer seasons
  • Secure garbage cans in a sturdy building
  • Clean leftover grease and food from grills
  • Keep pet food and livestock food inside
  • Put up electric fences around chicken coops and beehives

The DEC also reminded that intentionally feeding bears is illegal, adding that it can cause problems for the community and poses a safety risk.

“Black bears emerging from their winter dens have depleted fat reserves and will search extensively for easily obtainable, calorie-dense foods,” the DEC explained. “Bears will readily utilize human-created food sources and repeat access can make bears bolder… Recently, a bear in Chemung County proved that bears leave the area if there is no food available.”