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Tips to keep safe as young black bears disperse

Wednesday - 6/13/2012, 9:17am  ET

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Warmer months can bring black bears into neighborhoods in search of food. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON - Black bears are on the move in Maryland and Virginia, and while most stick to deep forests in both states, a bear could pop up anywhere in the region.

Mother bears have ousted cubs from the den, so there's no assurance the animals will stay in the woods, says Maryland state bear biologist Harry Spiker.

Bears tend to avoid humans, but both Maryland's Department of Natural Resources and Virginia's Department of Game and Inland Fisheries say hungry bears could be attracted to neighborhoods this time of year.

"In the spring and early summer, when juvenile bears disperse, we have picked them up in just about every county in the state," says Spiker, who is with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Spiker adds that juvenile males in particular will travel far as they seek their own territories.

If a bear is spotted in a yard, Virginia's bear manager Jaime Sajecki recommends scaring it away.

"From a safe distance you can make a lot of noise, you can shout at it," says Sajecki.

Black bears in search of food are often tempted to neighborhoods by trash and backyard bird feeders. Keep bears away by securing household trash and removing feeders.

"We leave out things that we may not think are delicious, but to a bear, they're great," says Sajecki.

Virginia's Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has a more tips on what to do (and not to do) around bears.

WTOP's Dick Uliano contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)