HOPKINTON - A black bear that has been roaming through many communities in Rhode Island was spotted in Hopkinton Tuesday morning.
The Department of Environmental Management received a call at 5:37 a.m. reporting that the bear was spotted near Reynolds Court, according to Gail Mastrati, a spokesperson for DEM.
At 7:23 a.m. a report came in that the bear was seen near North Road, which is near the Connecticut border.
Later Tuesday morning, Mastrati said the bear was spotted in Exeter around 11:30 a.m. The bear had reportedly crossed Route 165 and was seen near Boon Lake.
According to DEM, bear sightings were also confirmed in Richmond and West Greenwich in addition to several northern Rhode Island towns.
DEM offered tips on how to prevent black bears from becoming a nuisance as they travel during breeding season, which occurs during the months of June and July.
Bears are often attracted to garbage, birdseed and suet, fruit, compost piles, outdoor pet dishes and grease on barbecue grills. Once a bear finds an accessible food source, it may routinely return to the same site or similar sites to feed.
Without the food attractions, and left alone, a curious bear will usually wander back into more secluded areas.
DEM advises that if you see a bear on your property, you can either leave it alone and wait for it to leave, or make loud noises from a safe distance, and wave your arms, to scare it away. If you surprise a bear at close range, walk away slowly while facing the bear, but avoid eye contact which it might perceive as a threat. In Rhode Island, black bears are protected animals and hunting them is illegal.
Residents in the areas where the bear sightings have been reported are being asked to refrain from letting their dogs run free so that the dogs will not harass the bear. Bears are afraid of dogs, but if a bear is followed or confronted by a dog it may react and put itself in danger. Bears do not pose a threat to dogs.
In Rhode Island, as elsewhere, the tips on co-existing with bears are the same:
-Take down bird feeders from April to November. Natural food sources for birds are plentiful at this time of year.
-Do not feed pets outside, or, if you do, take pet food dishes inside at night.
-Store garbage in sheds and garages, away from doors. Double bagging and the use of ammonia will reduce odors that attract bears.
-Garbage for pickup should be put outside the morning of collection, not the night before.
-Keep barbecue grills clean of grease.
-Do not put meat or sweet food scraps in your compost pile.
Agricultural tips to discourage bears include:
-Use electric fencing around livestock or move livestock into barns at night.
-Use electric fencing around beehives or wire them together with metal strapping.
-Leave unplanted open lanes between forest and fields.
-Alternate row crops to provide less cover.
For the rest of this story and more local news, pick up the July 4 issue of the Chariho Times.