SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — For Paul and Ellen Jones, black bear sightings are nothing new.
The couple, from South Kingstown, Rhode Island, told WPRI that they’ve spotted a black bear in their yard twice over the past two years.
And this year proved to be no different.
“I heard a noise outside, and when I got to the door, I saw the bear just standing there,” Ellen Jones recalled. “It showed its teeth and growled at me.”
The bear was primarily focused on getting the bird seed out of the couple’s bird feeder in their backyard.
“The bear was large, and when it stood up, it had to be about 5 or 6 feet tall,” Paul Jones said.
By the time the bear left, the bird feeder was reduced to pieces on their lawn.
David Kalb, a biologist with the R.I. Department of Environmental Management Division of Fish and Wildlife, told WPRI black bears are the only species of bear that are found in the state.
Kalb said black bears typically venture out around this time, but the bear that destroyed the Jones’ bird feeder is the first reported sighting the DEM has received this year.
“They’re looking for whatever they can find, so that means if you have bird feeders up, they’re going to sit in front of your bird feeders and they’re going to eat every last seed that’s in there until it’s gone,” Kalb explained.
This behavior is normal, according to Kalb, since bears are always typically in search of food. He urged everyone to avoid leaving bird feeders, among other food sources, outdoors.
Kalb said bears aren’t aggressive, so anyone who spots one shouldn’t panic.
“Generally, if you make some noise when you’re in the woods, bears are going to hear you or smell you long before you get close to them,” Kalb explained. “Bears are a natural part of our wildlife in Rhode Island and we should appreciate them from a distance.”
Anyone who encounters a bear should make their presence known by waving their arms or shouting at the bear. Kalb also suggested people never turn their back on a bear or attempt to feed one.
If Rhode Island residents spot a bear, Kalb recommends reporting it to the DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.