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Bear aware: Sightings becoming more frequent

Bear in backyard
Posted at 10:15 AM, May 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-19 11:15:17-04

SUAMICO (NBC 26) — Leaves are returning to the trees, flowers are blooming and bears are out.

There have been quite a few bear sightings near Suamico, and Cal Janus said he saw a bear in the backyard on Monday.

"I look out the window, and there's the bear," Janus said. "I'm like 'Oh dear!'"

Janus said it was "unreal" seeing a bear because it was the first time he has seen one in his backyard in the 18 years he's lived in his Suamico home.

"I have deer and turkeys come through my backyard all the time, but not bears," Janus said.

Steve Burns, a wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said it's not surprising for people to see bears in the area during this time of the year. He said spring is when bears "wake up from hibernation" and leave their dens to search for food.

"At this time of the year, anything is possible," Burns said.

Burns said having a mix of rural and urban areas around Green Bay means there's a "good chance" bears may come in contact with people.

He said there are some things people need to know if they see a bear.

"You just wanna slowly back away. Don't turn your back on the bear," Burns said. "Be big; be loud. Be a creature that a bear doesn't wanna mess with. If you have pets, keep them close to you."

He added that bears are "naturally reclusive" and don't typically approach people or attack them. He said it's especially important to not mess with cubs either, and give bears space.

For backyard bears, Burns has some more tips.

"You wanna bring in pet foods and you wanna bring in bird feeders," he said. "Make sure your garbage cans are clean or kept in the garage."

At the end of the day, he said there's no need to panic, and bears are just as afraid of humans as humans are of them.

"Never try to corner or cut off an escape route from a bear," Burns said. "That's really what they're trying to do. Get away from you."

You can find the bear population in your area here.