- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says more bears have been coming out of hibernation earlier than usual this year, with multiple bear sightings already reported in Anchorage.

Several bears have been seen this February in the areas of east Anchorage, the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Powerline Pass. Bears typically don’t come out of hibernation until mid-April, KTUU-TV reported (https://bit.ly/249wHvV).

Dave Battle, a biologist with the department, said warmer temperatures during the winter can drive bears out of hibernation early. The department has received more reports of bear sightings this winter than in previous years, he said.

“Usually it’s the kind of thing where they get up and they kind of stumble around and you can tell that they’re groggy,” Battle said. “Some of the reports that we’ve gotten this winter, that did not seem to be the case. At least in one case it seemed the bear was pretty alert.”

With bear sightings on the rise, Battle said residents should keep a safe distance from the animals and be sure to keep food out of the bears’ reach.

“The most important thing is that they don’t find food. If the bears come out and don’t find any food then they will probably go back into the den pretty quick,” Battle said. “If they get out and find a garbage can, then they might stay out for longer and might cause some problems.”

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Information from: KTUU-TV, https://www.ktuu.com

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