It is that time of year when mother bears kick their young male cubs out of the family cave. Western New Yorkers are being warned, you may see one looking for new territory to claim as his own.
Those wandering young bears are a familiar problem in much of the region and they are occasionally wandering far enough that one was killed in downtown Buffalo a few years ago. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Regional Wildlife Manager Ken Baginski said the mothers kick the young males out of the way so they can raise new cubs, usually born in their dens.
He said the number and range of former farms that are now overgrown with trees and plants are ideal for the young bears looking for a new home. Baginski said they are not just in the Allegany State Park area anymore, but have wandered to the shores of Lake Ontario.
"The last two years or three years, we have had bears taken in Southern Erie County, but that's just one, like one a year," he said. "Nothing in Niagara County yet, but we do get pretty credible reports on an annual basis, at least the last few years, of bears in Niagara County."
Baginski said that is why bear hunting is now allowed across Upstate New York, not just in traditional bear areas.
He said it is not clear how many bears there are in Western New York and there is a research effort with Cornell University to find out, but the best guess is there are around 1,000 black bears in the region. That is why people are being told to be careful, do not leave food or garbage in unsealed containers, including bird or pet food.
"Get a photo, but don't do anything to attract the bears in," he said. "You shouldn't be putting food out to 'em. You should be keeping your trash cleaned up and secured. Bears spend most of their time looking for food, so they're going to be wherever they can find that food source, an easy food source, that's what they are going to search out."