My husband was pretty convinced he heard a bear in the woods behind our house recently and honestly I thought he was nuts – so I looked into it.

It seems black bear sightings have been more and more common on the SouthCoast in recent years, with the next few weeks looking to be a busy time for these fearsome, furry fellas.

So far this season, there have been bear sightings in Taunton, Lakeville, in Coventry, Rhode Island and all along the South Shore – and more could be coming.

Why?

Well apparently, July is bear mating season and the bears are out and about, looking to hook up.

In order to find a mate to hook up with, young male black bears are wandering around during the month of June trying to find new territories to live in.

Basically, your backyard could be the nightclub and the bears are trying to have a one night stand. But there are ways to keep the bears from calling your neck of the woods home.

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First and foremost, if your bird feeders aren't taken down yet, you might want to do that now. Birdfeeders are delightful for drawing feathered friends, but they are also hanging buffets for the bears. Even an empty feeder can draw a bear and the birds don't need them right now, so taking them down through the end of July is your best bet.

Secure your garbage bins and store them inside whenever possible. Bears are pretty good about tipping cans to get inside, so a bear-proof can or one stored in a garage or shed is the best way to go. According to Massachusetts.gov, ammonia also helps to reduce odors if you can't bring them inside.

You should also take in all pet food for the time being, and if you live in a known bear area, check for bears before letting your four-legged friends outside.

Pretty much anything that could be thought of as food for a bear needs to come in for the next few weeks. June will see more young males wandering for the perfect home before July's mating season – and you don't want that home to be yours.

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