ATLANTA — Summer is a great time for seeing bears, even if a visit to more traditional bear habitats — or the zoo — isn’t on the agenda.
But one way to avoid an unwanted visit from one of the 5,100 bears estimated to live in the Peach State: don’t feed the bears.
“Bears can become habituated to people when they are fed – whether intentional or not,” Adam Hammond, wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division, said in a news release.
“When a bear knows it can get a ‘free meal,’ it will return again and again until eventually it loses its natural fear of humans,” Hammond added. “This is when the majority of human-bear conflicts occur and the bear is labeled a nuisance.”
Another way to avoid a visit from a bear is to store garbage in the garage if necessary and keep grills and bird feeders in areas bears can’t access, experts say.
In Georgia, bears are usually found in one of a few areas — the north Georgia mountains, around the Ocmulgee River in middle Georgia and in the Okefenokee Swamp in the southern part of the state.