Maine's black bears are emerging from their dens earlier than normal after a mild winter and getting an early start on pawing through trash cans, bird feeders and food for livestock.
Bears emerge from hibernation in the spring, eager to eat. This sometimes causes conflicts with humans in densely populated areas where bears have more access to human food.
The state Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife says it has already received 29 calls about nuisance bears, which is a high number for this early in the spring. The department typically gets about 500 per year, with most of them coming in between May and July.
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The wildlife department is asking that residents take bear-proofing steps such as taking down bird feeders and keeping garbage cans inside until trash pickup.