NORTH ALABAMA (WHNT) — Don’t run, don’t look at them in the eye, and don’t feed them — that’s the guidance on what to do if you spot a black bear in the wild, according to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR).

Black bears are increasingly rare in Alabama, with their presence mostly relegated to the Lookout Mountain areas of DeKalb and Cherokee counties and Talladega National Forest.

ADCNR says the population found in the northeast corner of the state have “established a small, but viable population in that region.”

With that uptick in bears migrating to the area, sightings and encounters with humans naturally become more common. ADCNR provided tips to avoid interactions between people and the bears who may wander onto their property.

  • Make sure to leave trash outside only on pickup days, and never leave it out overnight
  • If you see evidence of bears around, remove deer and bird feeders
  • Feed your pets inside, or if they’re outside, make sure to only feed them enough for them
  • Store grills and smokers inside when not in use

If you follow all those tips and still find yourself in the presence of a black bear, ADCNR has tips for what to do in that scenario too.

  • Don’t run, back away very slowly
  • Stand tall and upright
  • Avoid making direct eye contact with the bear
  • Make sure the bear has freedom to escape
  • Never feed a bear on purpose

“The future of Alabama’s black bears lies with its citizens,” ADCNR wrote on its website. “It is the responsibility of Alabamians to take proactive measures to avoid creating situations that could encourage bears to become habituated to humans.”

Learn more about black bears in Alabama at outdooralabama.com.