Maine doesn't have a ton of critters that could hurt you, but...

I was just telling a coworker today about my daily routine with my dog. It typically involves heading out into the woods behind my house, and my boy and I walk around and check it all out for 30-40 minutes every afternoon. Although, there are a couple times of year where I start to find other places for us to walk.

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Mostly because there's thousands of acres behind me, and you just never know what's out there. At the very least I want to avoid skunks, porcupines, and wild turkeys. Yes, those turkeys will mess you up quicker than you want to think, and they can be surprisingly aggressive. But that's not the one to worry about the most.

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The annual waking of the black bears is beginning.

Contrary to what most people think, black bears don't *technically* hibernate. They go into a semi-conscious state called torpor. The main difference between the tow, is that torpor is more like a really lazy nap, but you could wake and move about if you want. I feel like that's how I am in the morning, honestly.

woman in bed awakening

But this time of year, as we're entering the warmer weather of spring, black bears are starting to come alive. And let's face it, after a long winter of napping and doing very little, you'd probably wake up pretty hungry. And maybe even a bit grumpy about it. And that is why black bears are so potentially dangerous right now.

You can do a few things to protect yourself.

There are a few things that will likely draw a bear onto your property. Again, their main motivation is food, so removing things that might be tasty to them is key. If you've been enjoying feeding the birds all winter, now is the time to take down those outdoor feeders. Bears will knock them down, looking for seed. Rake it up off the ground, too.

Woodpecker and sparrows on the bird feeder

They'll also come up on your deck and bash your grill apart, because it smells like food. Tasty food at that. If you feed your pets outside, that's another surefire signal to them. At the very least, they'll eat it all up. At most, they'll attack your pet too. And of course... you need to start keeping your trash somewhere secure. They'll tip it all over the place and trash your yard while they feast.

What if you run into a bear anyway, you ask?

That depends. If you see the bear, but it doesn't see you, quietly and stealthily back your way outta there. If for some reason you see one indoors, stay out of its way, but also provide it a means of escape and it will likely move on. But if one confronts you directly, even the you have a couple options.

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Mostly, you just need to convince the bear your bigger and louder than they are. Wave your arms and yell a lot. If the bear is persistent and aggressive, you may have to take more drastic steps, up to maybe fighting the bear. You wouldn't be the first Mainer to have to do it.

Funny man is getting punch in face with fist.

Mainers are tough folks, and more often than not, the bear will run away. They don't really want a confrontation. So while caution and avoidance are key, there may be a situation requiring you to get tough. Let's just hope for your sake, by following the more basic rules, you never have to come face to face with a black bear.

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