Maine wildlife officials: Warmer weather means more bears scavenging for snacks

Watch those picnic baskets.

A black bear in captivity waits for visitors to throw food into his pen at the the Maine Wildlife Park, Friday, July 25, 2014, in Gray, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — This year’s early arrival of warm spring weather means it’s time for Maine residents to take precautions to avoid run-ins with black bears.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said the bears are leaving their dens and looking for food. With natural foods limited at this time of year, that means they might come to backyards looking for bird seed, garbage or pet food, the department said.

The wildlife department said residents should rake up unused bird seed, remove bird feeders until November, keep pet food and trash inside or in secure areas, and clean grills thoroughly after use.

The bear population in Maine has been growing in recent years. The state uses a hunting season every summer and fall to try to control the population.

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