WARE/AGAWAM, MA (WGGB/WHSM) -- Residents all over western Mass. have been spotting bears in their backyards.

The question is - are there more bears out and about - or are people just noticing them more as they spend time at home?

It's that of the year when bears are making their way out of the wild. A mom and her cub were captured on video in Agawam.

While a western Mass. news viewer in Ware caught a bear family on camera - a mother and two cubs making a back yard stop.

"June is the peak of the mating season for black bears. So female that have had cubs with them for the past year, basically disperse those cubs. They’re now out on their own for the first time," said Mass Wildlife's black bear biologist, Dave Wattles.

Western Mass News spoke to Wattles and he said it's no surprise reports of bear sightings are up.

"You also have the males there active in the mating season are moving around. So you tend to see a peak in activity around this year, every year," Wattles explained.

Michaela Calabrese, an Agawam resident told Western Mass News she spotted a mama bear and her cubs in her backyard.

"It's nice to see this display of nature. It’s really calming and very peaceful to sort of observing," Calabrese said.

Wattles also said due to the coronavirus pandemic and people staying at home, there is a good chance they are seeing more bears than they usually would.

"The possibility that everybody is home could be that they are just seeing and encountering bears that they normally wouldn't. They would be at work or elsewhere, but the fact that we’re in our homes, in our neighborhood, maybe we are just seeing more of the bears now," Wattle explained.

So, what's attracting bears to residential neighborhoods?

"We need people to remove those food sources. So we need the public to remove the bird feeders, secure their garbage, and make sure bears aren’t getting access to any foods. Then they won't get into neighborhoods," Wattles noted.

If you do see a bear in your backyard, one of the most important things to keep in mind is keeping a safe distance.

"Let the bear move through, it will do its thing and it will move through it, but always give them space. Don’t try to get closer to take a picture. They are a large and powerful wild animal so it's important to respect that," Wattle explained.

Calabrese told us admiring from a distance is the most important thing we can do for ourselves and the bears.

"I think this is probably a good opportunity to sort of teach each other and teach our children about respecting wildlife. Nowadays when it seems they are so much closure to us there is more of a chance we will have those interactions. This is a good opportunity to remind the younger children, even some of the older children that they are perfectly natural and as long as we don't bother them, they won't bother us," Calabrese said.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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