ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Fat Bear Week – a very real, national event to vote for the champion of chubby, hibernation-ready ursa – has ended. The week is a chance to admire the preparation that bears go through in order to be ready for a long winter.

In acknowledgment of the season, New York State has some advice on what to do if a bear should pay your property a visit as it’s getting as big as it needs to be. Black bears are a somewhat rare sight in New York, but do call parts of the state their home, mainly in the Adirondack Park. The DEC’s stats show a minimum of 6,000-8,000 black bears in the state, breaking down into:

  • 50-60% in the Adirondacks
  • 30-35% in the Catskills
  • 10-15% in central-western New York

If you do spot a bear near your home, camping spot or elsewhere in the wilderness, it’s no reason to panic. Black bears aren’t often aggressive toward humans. The exceptions to that rule come when a bear wants something a human has, which typically occurs in campground settings. NY State Parks & Historic Sites has recommendations on how to prepare for a potential visit from a local bear:

  • All food and food-related garbage at a campground should be stored in a bear-proof container, or a vehicle, especially when leaving camp or going to bed.
  • If you encounter a bear on a trail, don’t run away, as running will prompt the bear to chase. Instead, back away slowly, using arms or clothing to make yourself bigger, and talk in a soothing voice.

Black bears are plenty large, but actually count as the smallest species in North America. Don’t let that statistic fool you, though – they can flip 300-pound rocks, open door latches and learn to distinguish objects based on color and shape. Males average 300 pounds, and females around 170 pounds.

As the season gets colder, the black bear will soon become even harder to spot. Soon, they’ll be entering their dens, where they’ll be for anywhere from three to eight months. When they emerge, mating season starts, typically producing litters of between three and six cubs.