Black Bears Target Bird Feeders, Garbage this Spring

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A Marathon County family is cleaning up their yard after a 400 pound black bear damaged their bird feeders while clawing at bird seed.

The state's black bear population is thriving, but there are ways to peacefully coexist.

"It's nice to see a bear now and then but they can do a little damage on your bird feeders," said Jerry Muzynoski, who lives in Ringle, just outside of Wausau.

Muzynoski is used to seeing black bears around his home looking for their next meal.

"I think this is the fourth time we've had some damage but again this is the worst we've had it so obviously this bear is getting hungrier and hungrier and knows where the good bird seed is," he said.

The Wisconsin Black Bear Educational Center is home to three black bears, who roam seven acres of enclosed woods.

Jeff Traska, who owns the non-profit organization, says to keep bears away from your yard, you need to understand their behavior.

"Here you can actually come and see bears doing what they do in the wild and you can experience it," Traska said.

Black bears are generally shy, and don't like to come in contact with people. But they are also opportunists, especially in the spring after a long winter in their dens. Any easy food source will attract black bears, who rely on their keen sense of smell.

You should never feed bears and consider bringing your bird feeders inside at night or hanging them high enough where bears can't reach them.

Never leave food outside, including pet food. Keep your garbage lids tight or bring them inside, and clean up your outdoor grills after use.

"We wanna eliminate the problem and the problem isn't the bear, it's the people," Traska said.

Last week a black bear that had become a problem in a residential area in Marshfield was shot and killed by police.

The Wisconsin Black Bear Educational Center is located on E. Sell Street, in Wausau. Tours are available by appointment only by calling 715-573-7663.