ALBANY —New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos has advised the public that black bears are becoming increasingly active as the summer season ramps up and homeowners can reduce the potential for human-bear conflicts by preventing bears from accessing food sources.

Seggos said, "Witnessing a bear in the wild is exhilarating and far preferable to encountering a bear in suburban and urban areas. DEC encourages New Yorkers to help protect themselves, others, property, and bears this summer by reducing attractants, especially accessible sources of food, and the potential for human-bear conflicts that can result."

In recent weeks, DEC has received numerous reports of bears entering suburban areas, breaking into buildings and vehicles, and approaching camp sites in efforts to obtain food. Conflicts typically increase this time of year due to the dispersal of young bears from family groups, the onset of the breeding season, and a lull in natural food availability prior to the ripening of local berries.

These conditions occasionally cause bears to travel into unfamiliar areas. Bears will take advantage of anything they consider a food source as they travel, adding to the potential for conflict. The most common attractants are poorly stored garbage, bird feeders, messy grills, and pet food left outdoors. Once a bear finds these foods, it will often continue to return to the area.

When bears have access to human foods, it encourages behaviors that can put bears at risk. Bears that frequent developed areas are at greater risk of being hit by cars, illegally shot by people that believe them to be a threat, or euthanized if the bear becomes a real threat. In addition, bears that become accustomed to obtaining food near human spaces will sometimes break into homes or vehicles to get food.

Residents and visitors should take steps to avoid attracting and creating nuisance bears.

Never feed bears intentionally. Feeding bears intentionally is illegal and a ticketable offense.