ALBANY -- The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has reminded campers, hikers and homeowners to take precautions against encounters with black bears while enjoying the outdoors, particularly in the Adirondack, Catskill and Allegany regions of New York state. DEC also informed New Yorkers that they may see coyotes more frequently during the spring and early summer because they will be raising their litters, and offered recommendations on how best to avoid conflicts with these animals.

Campers, hikers, homeowners can all help deter bears

Average adult male black bears weigh about 300 pounds, while females average about 170 pounds. Black bears are omnivorous, eating grasses, berries, fruit, nuts, seeds, insects, grubs, and carrion. Bears are very opportunistic foragers and also readily take advantage of human sources of food such as agriculture crops, honey, bird seed, trash, and pet food when available.

The Adirondack region, with approximately 5,000 bears, contains the largest bear population in New York. The Catskill region contains more than 1,500 bears, and the Allegany region more than 300 bears.

Black bears near residences

Black bears will become a nuisance and can cause significant damage in communities if they believe they can obtain an easy meal from bird feeders, garbage cans, dumpsters, barbecue grills, tents, vehicles, out-buildings or houses. Once a bear becomes a problem, DEC is often called on to relocate the offending animal. Bear relocations, however, are rarely effective permanent solutions to the problem. Bears are extremely mobile and have excellent homing abilities. The simplest way to avoid a nuisance encounter is to remove all food sources.

Black bears around campsites, hiking trails

Hikers and campers can avoid negative encounters with bears through the proper storage and management of bear attractants such as food and trash.

The glimpse of a black bear at a distance can be a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience; close encounters with bears, however, should be avoided. Never approach or surround a bear, as bears aggressively defend themselves when they feel threatened or cornered. Be cautious around cubs, as adult female bears are protective of their young.

Do not throw backpacks or food bags at an approaching bear, this practice will only encourage bears to approach and "bully" people to get food. Use noise to scare bears away -- yell, clap or bang pots immediately upon sighting a bear near your campsite. Never run from a bear. If you feel threatened, back away slowly while yelling at the animal. Avoid walking trails at night to prevent chance encounters.

People are more likely to see coyotes in spring

Coyotes live throughout upstate New York and the period from April through June is the peak of their pup-rearing activity. Coyotes have a high demand for food at this time of the year, and residents are more likely to see coyotes because of their increased activity in our environment.

Coyotes are seen in both developed and rural areas. Homeowners should take sensible precautions to avoid attracting coyotes to their property.

Never try to get close to a coyote. Any coyote that shows unusual boldness or acts tame should be avoided. Coyote attacks directed towards people have occurred in the western United States, and aggressive coyote behavior has also been reported in the eastern United States and in New York state.

Additional information, including a list of guidelines, can be found at the DEC Web site at

Recommended for you