As of 2017, there are an estimated 7,000 black bears in New York. With their populations growing in Westchester, knowledge is your best tool in keeping your family and pets safe.
Prevention is key
Typically, black bears are attracted to yards because of bird feeders or unsecured garbage. If you leave food out, bears will find it. This is a learned behavior, and bears figure out where the easy pickings are pretty quickly and often hit the same spots repeatedly. The DEC has a really nice page on human-bear conflict and how to minimize risk.
When you’re hiking in potential bear territory it’s always a good idea to attach a noise-maker (e.g.,. a small bell) to your person to alert any black bears in the area to your presence and allow them time to leave before any potential encounters occur.
Should you encounter a black bear…
You should remain calm and leave ample space for the bear to have an escape route. Never approach, corner, or feed a bear.
For more specific information on bear encounters, click here.
Are black bears really a threat to our safety?
The overall risk to pets and people is very low with bears in the area.
The greatest risk comes when you encounter a mother with cubs. The risk is elevated if the mother feel her cubs are threatened. You should maintain a healthy respect for bears, and be sure to keep a safe distance from them. Removing unsecured food from your property and keeping pets indoors should prevent most human/bear conflicts.