A series of bear sightings around Lincoln County has residents securing bird feeders and food scraps.
In a Facebook post Monday, July 17, the Wiscasset Police Department urged residents to use caution after sightings of bears on Indian Road and Lee Street.
One bear tore apart a bird feeder on Indian Road, Wiscasset Police Chief Jeffrey Lange said. There was a sighting of a bear on Lee Street heading toward High Street over the weekend.
Facebook commenters reported additional sightings near the Clipper Mart and the old NAPA store on Route 1, and in blueberrry fields on Orchard Hill Road in Dresden.
Bears have been finding a variety of “treats” 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.
Jefferson resident Mark Leeman was woken up at 4:30 a.m., Tuesday, July 18 by “a rather large black bear” who was eating bird seed from a feeder it had ripped to the ground in the yard of his Hinks Road home.
Leeman later discovered the bear had gone through his and his neighbors’ garbage. He reported the incident to the Maine Warden Service and alerted his neighbors to ensure they removed their bird feeders and secured their garbage.
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, 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, DIFW 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 track them.