A good-sized black bear was seen romping along Millcreek Road in Haymarket on Wednesday, one of many bear sightings across Northern Virginia this summer.
The Prince William County’s Animal Control Bureau does not routinely respond to bear sightings unless the bear poses an imminent threat. To avoid problems, consider the following tips for dealing with hungry bears:
• Remove food sources that might attract hungry bears. This includes bird feeders, garbage, pet food, outdoor grills, livestock food, compost, fruit trees and beehives. Virginia's bears are primarily active and very hungry from late March through May, so temporarily removing these items, or scrupulously cleaning them if you cannot remove them, should help.
• Do not store trash — or anything that smells like food — in vehicles, on porches or decks. Keep your full or empty trash containers secured in a garage, shed or basement. If you do not have a trash collection service, take your garbage to a landfill frequently (twice a week or more). If you do have a trash collection service, put your garbage out the morning of the pickup rather than the night before.
• Consider installing electric fencing, an inexpensive and extremely efficient deterrent to bears, around dumpsters, gardens, beehives or other potential food sources.
What should you do if you see a bear? Keep a respectful distance. If a bear is up a tree or near your property, give it space. Bring your pets inside and leave the immediate area.
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.
If you experience a bear problem after taking appropriate preventative steps, notify the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries regional office. Visit https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear for more information.