BOSTON (CBS) — As black bears expand their range in Massachusetts, the state is warning anyone raising chickens to take precautions. The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife says reports of bear damage to backyard chicken coops are on the rise.

A spokeswoman for the department says poultry owners, especially those who may have started to keep chickens during the coronavirus pandemic, might not know that black bears are pushing farther east.

“Properly maintained electric fencing is the only way to protect chickens, beehives, and other livestock from bears,” the department says.

Tips for what to do in a bear encounter and protecting chicken coops and hives from bear damage can be found at