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Wildlife officials warn residents about emerging bears

April 4, 2021 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island wildlife officials are reminding residents to remove potential food sources from their properties as black bears emerge from hibernation.

Although rarely aggressive around people, bears can quickly become a nuisance if they identify and repeatedly return to a source of food, the Department of Environmental Management said in a statement this week.

Black bears have an excellent sense of smell and will investigate odors they identify as an easy meal. The animals have been known to visit bird feeders, beehives, chicken coops, rabbit hutches, and compost piles in search of food.

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The agency recommends removing bird feeders by early April, taking pet food dishes inside at night, and storing birdseed, livestock feed, and garbage inside. Grills should also be kept clean while electric fencing is recommended for chicken coops, beehives, rabbit hutches and livestock pens.

Anyone who spots a bear, which are protected in the state, should call the agency.