Part of living in western Massachusetts is enjoying the beauty of the Berkshire Mountains, the sounds, the views, and of course the wildlife.

Residing in Massachusetts, even if you live in a more heavily settled, residential area, means animals in their natural habitat are still surrounding us. Cute cuddle ones, sometimes annoying ones, and sometimes big burly ones. This brings us to our old friend, the black bear.

Have You Noticed More Black Bears in Your Massachusetts Neighborhood?

Despite Massachusetts being the third most densely populated state in the U.S., black bears have been increasing in numbers in the Bay State since the 1970s, according to MassWildlife.

In 2022 the statewide population of bears is estimated to be over 4,500 animals and is growing and expanding eastward. The majority of black bears live and breed in Worcester County, northern Middlesex County, and west to us here in Berkshires. Berkshire County has the lowest population of people per capita, but the highest of black bears.

Patch reports that some experts are crediting an uptick of bears in Massachusetts neighborhoods to a bad hard mast crop (acorns and other tree nuts) last year leaving fewer high-calorie treats on the ground for bears to grab when they came out of hibernation. Hungry bears missing those natural resources expanded their hunt for food into people's back yards, birdfeeders, and trash.

If you live in an area where bears are becoming a nuisance, MassWildlife encourages you to do the following;

  • Remove bird feeders
  • Secure trash
  • Remove other attractants: Keep pet food inside. Clean greasy barbecues and grills after each use. Do not leave food scraps, grease containers, or spilled grease in your yard.

If you do see a bear in your neighborhood, chances are the bear’s first response to something unusual (i.e. you) is to leave. Mass Wildlife says if a bear is feeding in an area where it doesn’t belong, such as your yard, on a porch, or in a dumpster, step outside, yell and make lots of noise.

Check out MassWildlife's page on black bear safety for more information.

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