Stafford County resident snaps photo of black bears in yard

- Two black bears were spotted in Virginia last week and were caught on camera by a homeowner who said they were spotted in his back yard.

Stafford County resident Allen Melson snapped this photo of the two bears (maybe a mother and cub) in his yard. One of the bears can be seen stretching out on the ground and the other is sitting nearby.

Bears sighting are not uncommon this time of year. Just last month, several residents in the Vienna and Oakton areas of Fairfax County made several bear sightings. Officials have not said if this bear sighting is connected to the ones that happened last week.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries suggests residents take these precautions to minimize encounters with black bears:

- Keep a respectful distance from the bear. It will move on quickly in most instances.

- Give the bear space and do not approach it if it is up a tree or near your property. Bring your pets inside to give the bear a clear path to leave.

- Do not try to remove or “save” a small cub from an area.

- Remove food sources to discourage the bear from returning.

- Do not store trash or anything that smells like food in cars or on porches or decks.

- Make sure to keep your trash containers secured in a garage, shed or basement.

- Take your trash out in the morning if you use a trash collection service, not the night before.

- If you have a bird-feeder and a bear visits, take down your bird-feeder for 3 to 4 weeks.

- Encourage your neighbors to take similar precautions to minimize bears.

If you do see a bear, report it to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries through the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline at 855-571-9003.

Get more info on how to handle a bear encounters online: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear/black-bear-factsheet.pdf

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