Most bears fear people, yet they are increasingly seen rummaging through garbage, pillaging bird feeders, and even attacking us humans, the AP reports. Some analysts blame state bans on bear hunting, which allowed the US bear population to more than double between 1989 and 2006, jumping from 165,000 to more than 350,000. One ecologist calls it “quite a phenomenal range expansion of the black bear.”
Bears aren’t becoming more aggressive, but a survey found nearly 20,000 reported bear-human conflicts in 37 states 3 years ago. Experts advise bear-weary people to put trash out only on pick-up days, keep pet food indoors, and hang bird feeders out of their reach. And bear in mind that if the beast sees you, “it would rather flee than fight,” says a biologist.