CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – March is around the time black bears begin leaving their winter dens and searching for food. MassWildlife is asking residents to prepare their yards by reducing food sources.

With over 4,500 black bears across the Commonwealth, it’s not uncommon to see one walking through your yard. Natural foods like acorns and nuts are expected to be lacking this year due to a low fall crop. However, bears will always go to the easier source of food which means your bird feeders are the number one option.

“Generally just keep your distance. Obviously, you know you don’t wanna confront a bear but if they show any sign of aggression, you know you do wanna make some noise to let it know you’re there,” said Andrew Christopher, owner of Western Mass Wildlife Removal.

MassWildlife recommends residents remove their bird feeders and not leave out their garbage. Bee hives and livestock should also be secured. A well-maintained electric fence is the only way to protect chickens and bee hives from bears.

“It’s kind of a natural fear that people have when there’s any animal that’s bigger than them that can tear them up if they wanted to, but they don’t want to. There’s not natural aggression in bears, so not a real thing to be scared of bears. Just be on edge that they don’t want anything to do with us but as an animal they will defend themselves if they have to,” said Christopher.

There are other ways bird watchers can still enjoy their hobbies, such as water fountains, and growing native plants, shrubs, and trees.

If you can safely take a picture or video of a bear in your yard, you can share it with 22News by emailing