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Bear sightings on the rise: What to do if you encounter one

MARTINSVILLE, VA – As you know, we’ve been showing you videos and pictures of bears around Martinsville and Henry County the last few weeks.

When species of trees produce a bumper crop of their fruits or nuts it is known as a mast year.

Ben Williams, Administrator of Science at the Virginia Museum of Natural History, says this may be a reason for the rise in bear sightings in the area.

“Since last year was a really good mast year that would translate to probably more baby bears and then more juveniles that are surviving and eventually ending up in your backyard,” Williams said.

Another factor may be bear breeding, which occurs from mid-June to mid-July.

If you spot a bear in your neighborhood, Williams says these are some things to keep in mind.

“Stand your ground, raise your arms up, wave them sort of slowly over your head, so the bear knows you're a person and thinks you're bigger than it is. Usually, if you stand your ground and you talk in low tones, sort of calm tunes, they'll scatter pretty quickly,” he stated.

How do you keep bears away from your home?

  • Make sure your trash cans are sealed up that they're inaccessible

  • Make sure that you keep your grill clean because if you're cooking meat, fat tends to drip down into the grill

  • Try to keep the area under your bird feeder clean. (If you see bears coming to your bird feeder, you might want to take the feeders down for a while so that they don't come to rely on that.)

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