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Editorial: Bears, bears, bears

Recent police reports prompted us to think of children’s book classic, “Bears,” by Ruth Krauss and her line “bears, bears, everywheres.”

That’s how it must seem to neighborhoods in Greenfield, Montague and just about everywhere else in Franklin County as our American black bears make their annual springtime pilgrimage out of the woods in search of food. In particular, these hungry ursines have a real appetite for bird seed or scraps and leftovers from someone’s meal that have made their way into the trash.

And who can blame them? Having just emerged from their dens where they’ve been hibernating — and living off their fat reserves — all winter, the bears are hungry. As omnivores, bears are not picky about what they eat. Depending on where they are living, they’ll eat plants, fruits, nuts, insects, honey, small mammals and carrion. In those parts of the country where salmon are common, black bears will eat them, too.

And they have quite an appetite. That’s to be expected when you consider male black bears in Massachusetts average around 230 pounds while their female counterparts are just slightly smaller.

Along with an appetite, these bears possess the kind of teeth and claws that can make a mess out of the garbage can, the backyard feeder or even parts of someone’s home should a bear see and smell an opportunity for lunch.

As thrilling as it is to see a bear up close, no one wants such an encounter to turn out badly, for people, pets or these wild animals.

That’s why it is so important for people to help keep these visitors from being anything more.

If you live in an area bordering a wooded section, please stop feeding the birds and to pull in your bird feeders. Also make sure that bird seed and pet food isn’t left out or unsecured. The same goes for making sure your trash is neither an attraction nor easily accessible.

And, if you do get a visit, keep yourself, children and pets out of harm’s way.

Like the book “Bears,” we want any kind of sighting to be a story with a happy ending.

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