Anecdotal evidence might lead one to believe Lincoln County’s resident black bear population is on the increase, but according to state and local officials, there is still no Lincoln County bear population to speak of.
Facebook pages belonging to self-identified Lincoln County residents in Jefferson, Nobleboro, Waldoboro, and Newcastle have recently posted pictures and reported sightings of black bears. However, according to Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Regional Biologist Keel Kemper, while there is no question Maine’s black bear population is healthy, but year to date he has not received any reports involving bears in Lincoln County.
Maine bears are generally familiar with human activity and try to avoid humans whenever possible, Kemper said. If a bear is actively coming into a human area, it is likely after an easy meal.
“Birdfeeders, suets, high proteins, high fats; compost piles, grills, anything with that nice greasy residue is going to attract them,” Kemper said. He encouraged people concerned about bear activity to do a thorough self assessment of food sources for bears.
“You secure the food sources and the problem usually resolves itself,” he said,
According to the department’s website, human bear conflicts have decreased over the course of the last century in light of changes in agricultural practices, increased interest in bear hunting, and the species’ rise in status as a game animal. Another factor is Maine’s relatively small human population remains concentrated in the southern third of the state where the bear population remains at its lowest.
To prevent conflicts with black bears, the department’s website recommends bringing bird feeders inside between April 1 and Oct. 1, cleaning up any seed left on the ground, and storing unused seed inside; bringing trash to the curb on the morning of pick up, or storing it in a certified bear-resistant container; and keeping dumpster lids closed and outdoor grills clean.
In the event a human comes into contact with the bear, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife recommends staying away from the animal.
Waldoboro resident Kyle Santheson said he was surprised to see a bear on his deck June 5. Santheson said he has been following reports of bear sightings on local Facebook pages but he was still surprised to see one near his home on Manktown Road.
Santheson said he has had problems with raccoons raiding his birdfeeders. He was relaxing in his living room around 5:30 p.m. when he heard a scraping sound. He got up to investigate thinking it was a raccoon and was surprised to find himself looking through a screen door at a bear.
“He scared me,” Santheson said. “I scared him. He jumped down and ran off into the woods.”
About 20 minutes later Santheson heard the scraping sound again. This time he was ready with a camera, and snapped a photo that won the June #LCNme365 photo contest.
“This was a big guy but I don’t think he was a full-grown adult bear, 600 pounds or whatever they grow to,” he said.