There have been two independent reports of bear sightings in Wiscasset in the past week, prompting the Wiscasset Police Department to post a Facebook alert urging residents to use caution and secure bird feeders and outdoor food items.
Early last week, a bear tore apart a bird feeder on an Indian Road property, Wiscasset police Chief Jeffrey Lange said. There was another bear sighting on Lee Street over the weekend, with the bear seen heading toward High Street, he said.
Bears have been finding a variety of “treats” left in yards or along roads, according to the Facebook post. The police department asks residents to secure their bird feeders by placing them above the reach of bears and to avoid discarding food scraps outside.
Maine is home to the largest black bear population in the lower 48 states, but sightings in the populated southern and coastal regions of Maine are rare, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife.
Bears are most active between April and November, with hundreds of reports each year of bears destroying bird feeders and rummaging through trash cans. Bear conflicts can largely be avoided by removing or securing bird seed, grills, garbage and livestock and pet food, all of which attract bears to backyards, according to the department.
Bear attacks are rare, but if a bear is encountered in a backyard, creating loud noises from a safe distance will scare it away. If a bear is encountered in the woods, DIF&W recommends slowly backing away from it and leaving the area.
If a bear is found in a building, such as a garage, it should be given a clear escape route and should not be closed in, according to the department.
“Do not antagonize the bear in any way,” Lange said.
The Wiscasset Police Department is asking residents to report bear sightings and to share any pictures that may have been taken of the bears to help the Maine Warden Service in tracking them.