Keep hungry bears at bay

Leaview Drive in Westfield Photo sent to reportit@wwlp.com by Tom Drewski

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – As bear sightings once again increase throughout the city and surrounding areas, officials urge residents to remember to take away the food sources that draw them in.

Residents have been making claims of bear sightings along Mill Street and the Little River Road areas in Westfield, and activity has also increased in Southwick. According to Westfield Animal Control assistant operations manager Margaret Terkelsen, the bears are appearing due to food availability and they will keep coming to the areas where they find it.

“They’re coming out of hibernation, the females have cubs with them, they’re definitely out and about,” Terkelsen said. “One of the biggest reasons we see the bears is they find food sources in the neighborhood.”

The sources are the typical variety for the most part, according to Terkelsen. The bears are attracted to human food scraps and compost piles, as well as peanut butter, suet and seed-based birdfeeders. And some are even welcomed by humans.

“Some people even feed the bears themselves,” Terkelsen said.

So, in order to reduce the amount of bear sightings in the city—especially if you’re concerned about you, your loved ones or your pets possibly having a negative interaction with a bear—Terkelsen suggests that you take away the food sources.

“The biggest thing is if they don’t find a food source they won’t come into the neighborhood,” she said.

Terklesen suggests putting garbage in garages or other closed area where bears aren’t likely to access, and take down birdfeeders.

Terkelsen said though, that bears in Westfield are not uncommon and people should be aware of this.

“We have bears all over Westfield,” she said. “They may not have popped up in certain areas yet, but they are all over Westfield.”

If you are concerned about a bear or other wild animals near your home, Terkelsen said that you can call the police and animal control. However, the environmental police may be better to call, as they would intervene and possibly relocate a bear if they are “very severe and causing trouble.”