Feeding the bears is strictly prohibited. That is the message Southwick's animal control officer is trying to get out to residents after an increase in bear sightings over the weekend.
It appears that some Southwick residents are feeding the bears either on purpose or in inadvertently and the town's animal control officer is issuing a plea to stop.
One four-legged friend and possibly one other bear have apparently been making themselves quite at home in numerous Southwick backyards.
"I'm going to say that it was probably two bears because of the location, but they have a large territory. They'll go a 10 to 15 mile area," said Southwick Animal Control Officer Tracy Root.
Root told Western Mass News that numerous calls came in over the weekend of bears being spotted in the area of South Longyard Road and on Bungalow Street, helping themselves to bird feeders, even napping.
"They're looking for food and people have not taken in their bird feeders, which is a no, no. The birds this time of year do not need the bird feeders out. I know they're pretty to look at, but they draw in that wildlife," Root added.
There have been reports of people feeding bears on purpose or trying to distract them in other ways.
"People will throw some kind of food out in a different part of the yard to keep them away from their trash cans. All it does is bring them in because now, they have a food source, so they're going to keep coming back," Root said.
The bottom line is that Root said take all food sources out of your yard, including those bird feeders, any cat or dog food, composting piles, and trash cans, and if you do encounter a bear, "You can make loud noises, take a couple of pots and bang them together is the easiest. You can get a boat horn. It's just a horn that they use on boats. It's very loud and bears don't like it," she explained.
MassWildlife said that the presence of a dog could trigger a bear to be aggressive. They said to keep dogs leashed and never let them chase or interact with bears and if you encounter a bear while with your dog, they said to back away slowly and leave the area.
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