Bear Population Growing In Central Mass.

DOUGLAS (CBS) – The great outdoors is getting a little too close for comfort in Douglas. A homeowner took video of a black bear roaming around in his backyard and tearing down his bird feeders.

John Sullivan’s got ripped apart. “It’s all done,” Sullivan said. “It’s neat but it’s also a little scary.”

And Brad Maltz saw his snapped. “He might be a little more scared of us than we are of him,” Maltz said.

But broken bird-feeders and big paw prints have become common here in recent days, with a spate of bear sightings unlike anything the police chief has encountered in his two decades on the job.

bear1 Bear Population Growing In Central Mass.

Bear spotted in Douglas (WBZ-TV)

“We’ve kind of gotten inundated with calls, people finding bears in their yard,” said Douglas Police Chief Patrick Foley.

“So the bear population in Central Massachusetts is definitely growing,” said biologist Dave Wattles.

Growing and pushing east toward the 495 belt, says the state’s top bear expert as young males seek their own habitat away from bear saturated Western Mass. a trend almost certain to ramp up.

“It’s essentially a slow expansion of the range as bears kind of push their way east,” Wattles said.

And with the state’s bear population nearly doubling in the last 20 years, that means more raids on the backyard bird-feeder.

“It also teaches them over time that those are good places to find food, which eventually leads to conflict with people,” Wattles said.

So the folks in Douglas are getting the classic advice in bear abatement: take down those bird-feeders.

“Just leave them alone, they’ll get the hint and they will go away,” Chief Foley said.

Indeed, unless the bear becomes a nuisance or a threat, it’ll share this landscape with residents and John Sullivan says it’s welcome to a point.

“I’m just glad he didn’t go in my pool,” Sullivan said.

Curiously state experts say people are often reluctant to ditch their bird-feeders even after a bear visit. Residents and shopkeepers in Douglas have also been told to secure their trash so it doesn’t become a bear buffet.

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