Police Urge Bear Safety Amid Prince William Co. Sightings

WASHINGTON — After several bear sightings in Prince William County, police are warning residents to take precautions to make sure they aren’t vulnerable to attacks during an active bear season.

Many bears are emerging from dens after months of hibernation, and are in search of food. While bears generally avoid humans, they may wander into suburban area, Prince William County police said Wednesday.

There have been bear sightings in western Prince William County, police said. Virginia’s bears are primarily active and very hungry from late March through May, say the police department’s animal control bureau.

Police say one important rule is to keep a “respectful distance” if you encounter a bear. If a bear is up a tree on or near your property, give it space and bring pets inside.

Police offers the following tips to avoid a run-in with a bear:

  • Remove food sources that might attract hungry bears such as compost, bird feeders, garbage and pet food.
  • Don’t store trash in vehicles, porches or decks. It’s best to store trash in sheds or basements. If that’s not an option, take garbage to the landfill frequently.
  • Consider installing electric fencing around dumpsters, gardens, beehives or other potential food sources.

Also, while bear cubs are cute, do not try to remove it from the area, police warn. Mother bears may be nearby and feel threatened.

“Always remember that a bear is a wild animal, and that it is detrimental to the bear — as well as illegal in Virginia — to feed a bear under ANY circumstances. Even the inadvertent feeding of nuisance bears is illegal,” police said in a news release.

If you experience a bear problem, contact the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries regional office.

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