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About a bear: Tips for what to do when you see one

Timothy Spierto, senior wildlife biologist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, looks for signs of black bear beneath a fallen tree in Springville in this file photo. Springville has been the site of frequent bear visits as the population in the region grows.  (Derek Gee / Buffalo News) 

In addition to Saturday's sighting of a bear in the Newfane area of Niagara County, bears also have recently been spotted in Alden, Boston, Eden, Elma, Springville, Wales and West Seneca, according to state environmental regulators.

We're in the height of black bear breeding season, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Here's a recent report from Staff Reporter Dan Herbeck warning of the possibility of increase human encounters with bears in Western New York. Herbeck's report includes a list of tips of how to prevent or minimize a negative bear encounter. See more tips at the bottom of this post.

There are between 1,800 and 2,500 bears in the state's southern bear range, which includes the Catskills and parts of western and central New York. Allegany State Park is one of the four best places in the state to see black bears, the DEC says.

The bear population there has been growing and expanding in range over the past decade, according to state officials.

Here's a video on black bears from the DEC's website.

This is a bear safety video from the National Park Service about grizzly bears near Yellowstone National Park:

Here are the DEC's tips for avoiding problems with bears:

• Never feed bears. 

• If you believe that bears are being fed, intentionally or unintentionally, immediately
report it to DEC. 

• Stop feeding birds as soon as the snow melts. Birds do not need supplemental food in
the summer, when natural foods are most abundant. Clean up all seed fragments and
shells left over from winter feeding, as the smell will attract bears. 

• Dispose of garbage as frequently as possible. Store it in clean, secure containers (toplatched,
tied or chained). Sprinkle ammonia inside the garbage bag before closing.
Tie off garbage bags before placing them in containers.
• Keep garbage in cans inside buildings whenever possible. 

• If garbage is picked up at the curb, put the garbage out just before the scheduled
pickup or place it in a roadside bear-resistant container. Do not put garbage out the
night before curbside pick-up. Clean garbage cans frequently with ammonia.

• Do not add meat scraps, bones or melon rinds to your compost pile. 

• Do not burn garbage, especially meat scraps and grease. 

• Clean barbecue grills before night fall and, after they cool down, store them inside; 

• Feed pets indoors and store pet food indoors. If pets must be fed outdoors, take in all
uneaten food and dishes before dark.

To reach the DEC Wildlife Office, call (716) 851-7010 in Buffalo or (716) 372-0645 in Allegany.

--Aaron Besecker

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