NEW YORK (NEWS10) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on Monday sent out a reminder about techniques to help you avoid conflicts with bears. Their advice is simple: remove anything that could attract bears.

The DEC advises everyone living in or visiting “bear country”—which includes much of Upstate New York—to secure bird feeders, garbage cans, and pet food. Residents have been asked by the DEC to take down their bird feeders completely and to clean up any remaining seed by April 1. They say to store garbage in secure buildings and to feed pets indoors.

Taking these steps can help bears find food naturally while protecting people and their property. More ways to avoid bears include:

  • Remove grease from grills after every use
  • Do not operate refrigerators or freezers outside or on porches
  • Install electric fencing

The DEC says that, with warming weather, they have already received reports of bear sightings all over the state. Officials say that as bears emerge from their dens, they tend to use their powerful noses to seek out food. Human-related food sources can include things like bird feeders, garbage, and pet food, which can attract bears, potentially setting the stage for human-bear conflicts.

The DEC says feeding bears is illegal, whether intentional or unintentional. Property mismanagement that attracts bears can have negative consequences for entire communities, as well as for the bears themselves.