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ELLSWORTH — Waking up hungry after a long nap and finding no snacks in sight is enough to drive anyone to distraction.
For bears with the munchies, it is enough to drive them into backyard trash cans and up trees to tempting-looking bird feeders.
Residents throughout Hancock County have been reporting bear sightings near their homes in recent weeks.
It is a common occurrence this time of year, according to Rich Bard, a state assistant regional wildlife biologist.
The most nutritious options on the bear menu — fruit, berries and nuts — are not yet available. The animals are forced to get creative.
“Unfortunately, they tend to get into people’s garbage, the barbecue, beehives,” Bard said.
He said the animals pose little risk to humans who maintain their distance.
“They’re usually more afraid of you than you are of them,” he said.
He said there are few reports of bears attacking pets, but that a bear would take a swipe at a dog if it was cornered.
Bear attacks on goats in Franklin last year were an unusual occurrence, according to Bard.
He said such attacks are more common in areas with larger livestock populations.
The best way to deter bears is to remove temptation, he said.
He recommends people keep garbage inside and consider temporarily removing bird feeders.
“The best solution is removing things that attract them in the first place,” Bard said.