EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – Temperatures have started to warm up and certainly felt like spring may be around the corner this week. The Wisconsin DNR says that’s triggering some bears to wake up from hibernation.
Wildlife biologist Bill Hogseth said bears go into a deep sleeping during the winter to adapt to the cold weather. They live off their fat reserves to starve. That’s why when bears wakeup from hibernation, they’re hungry.
“Bears start waking up even right about now. When warm days come up, it’s not uncommon for bears to wake up, wander around and go back to their den and maybe sleep a little more before spring gets back into full tilt,” said Hogseth. “So people will start seeing bear activity more now as the days start to warm up.”
He said as snow begins to melt, the low lying areas where some bears are denning will flood. That triggers bears to wake up and start moving around, looking for food.
With snow still on the ground, he said there is not a lot of food available to the bears and that may lead the animals to your backyard.
Hogseth said to do an inventory on what’s in your yard.
“Do you have a bird feeder up? Do you have garbage the bear is interested in? Are you feeding your dog outside? Some people put dog food out on the front stoop and to a bear that's a good easy meal. And even something like dirty grills, there’s a grease catch at the base of the grill that will attract bears to somebody's house,” he said.
If you go on a hike and come across a bear or maybe spot one in your backyard, don’t approach it and let it be.
“Remember, bear are naturally shy and prefer to avoid human contact but if you do come into contact with a bear and you do encounter one, make some noise. Let it know you're there so you don't surprise it. 99 percent of the time the bear will move on and try to avoid one,” said Hogseth.
He said to be especially careful of a sow or mother bear and her cubs. She will be protective of her cubs so don’t surprise her suddenly.
“Start talking to it, start kicking your feet, rustling leaves, start making noise in some way,” he said.
If a bear continues to linger in your yard, contact the USDA Wildlife Services at 1-800-228-1368. Professionals will come and trap the bear and relocate it before it becomes unafraid of humans.