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Bear sightings are on the rise; do you know what to do if you see one?

The DEEP continues to remind people to take the necessary steps to reduce encounters and potential conflicts with bears.

FARMINGTON, Conn. — Some may see them out their window. Others may notice them when they're taking a stroll on the trails or in a tree. With warmer temps in the forecast, bears are out and about. 

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) continues to remind people to take the necessary steps to reduce encounters and potential conflicts with bears.

RELATED: Orphaned bear cubs settle into new home at wildlife facility

"Traditionally, bears have been sighted mostly in the northwest corner of the state, and while we still have heavy sighting there, bears are now sighted all across the state," explained Will Healey with DEEP.

According to DEEP, more than 8,000 bear sightings were reported throughout the state in 2021. Already in 2022, there have been more than 3,000. 

For Farmington resident John Kelly, this isn't shocking. 

"We see them all the time here," said Kelly. 

However, Kelly said seeing one in his garage on Monday was. 

"I was shocked," said Kelly. "I took a second guess, stepped back, closed the door for a minute, opened the door again."

Kelly said when he did open it, he confirmed it was a black bear in his fridge chugging a pack of chocolate milk. He said when the bear saw him, it grabbed an extra carton of milk before hitting the road. He said the close encounter had been a lesson learned, and their family is being more cautious, especially with their dog.

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"We do walk with her on a leash now," Kelly said, referring to his dog. "And we are keeping the garage door shut a lot more." 

Officials said Kelly had the right idea. However, it's also vital that if things like this happen, you must nip it in the bud to avoid habitual behaviors. 

"Yell at it, and you know if you have a pan and you can bang on it that's important too it's essential for bears to understand that these are normal behaviors for them to engage in," explained Healey. 

RELATED: Bear found in tree in Hartford: Firefighters

Because being Bear Aware is key. 

-         Be Loud 

-         Keep your distance 

-         Keep pets on a short leash for control 

-         DO NOT FEED 

-         Keep trash cans closed 

-         Take in bird feeders. 

CLICK HERE for more tools and resources on how to be bear aware. 

Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at rharrington@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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