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Black bears are emerging from dens in Massachusetts: "Protect your pets"

"I feel bad": Food put out by humans may lead to bear's demise in Hanson
"I feel bad": Food put out by humans may lead to bear's demise in Hanson 02:11

BOSTON - Black bears are coming out of hibernation in Massachusetts, and they're hungry.

MassWildlife shared a reminder to social media on Monday that March is when the bears emerge from their dens to search for food. The agency advises residents to "make your yard less attractive to bears" by taking down birdfeeders, making sure trash is secure and protecting their pets.

"The presence of a dog could trigger a bear to be aggressive," MassWildlife said. "Keep dogs leashed when they're outdoors and never let dogs chase or interact with bears."

Black bear range in Massachusetts

According to MassWildlife, there are more than 4,500 black bears in the state and they're moving east. A map on the agency's website shows their "established" range in western and eastern Massachusetts, with an "expanding" range reaching inside Route 495.

The black bear range is expanding eastward (Image credit: MassWildlife)

In recent years, bears have been spotted roaming the South Shore. A dog was caught on camera facing off with a bear in Cohasset just last summer. 

And in Hanson, a wandering black bear was eventually killed after some controversy in the community. The bear named "Pumpkin" had killed livestock more than once, and police said it would have to be euthanized. A hunter ended up killing Pumpkin legally in November using a bow and arrow.

Advice for keeping bears away

WBZ-TV spoke to MassWildlife black bear project manager Dave Wattles last year about the rise in bear sightings. His No. 1 piece of advice for residents is ditching the birdfeeder.

"Birdfeeders are the bane of my existence, because they do train bears to come to the backyard, so removing the birdfeeders," Wattles said. 

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