Ready or not, bears are stirring in Southcentral Alaska.
"It's definitely not too early for Alaskans or Anchorage residents to start taking precautions, to start being bear aware," Ken Marsh, Alaska Department of Fish and Game spokesman, said Monday.
Marsh said the state wildlife agency has verified two reports of black bears in the Anchorage area, and have gotten another one or two reports that they haven't been able to confirm.
"If black bears are starting to stir, brown bears could be, too," Marsh said.
[Nearly 4 times more bears were shot dead last year in Anchorage than in 2016]
Now is a good time to get your yard and home ready for summer. Don't leave dog food outside. Start taking trash out the morning it's getting picked up, instead of the night before, Marsh said.
Take down your bird feeders for the season, even if the feeders are high off the ground. "(Bears) will find a way," Marsh said. "It's best to just bring it in."
If you have an electric fence around livestock, make sure the fence is on and operating normally, Marsh said.
During early spring, bears often come out during warm days, then go back to their den when temperatures drop at night. But, if a bear finds some food, it is much more apt to stay up, Marsh said.
"If (bears) happen to amble through your neighborhood, if they aren't rewarded with food, they aren't going to hang around," Marsh said.
But, if the animal does find food, you may be setting the foundation for a longer-lasting problem, Marsh said.
[Here are strategies for staying safe in bear country]
If a black bear is acting aggressively or getting into trash in your neighborhood, Fish and Game wants to know.
If the animal is in your neighbor's trash – try to snap a picture, Marsh said. That evidence helps the state agency take action against people who are leaving their trash out, he said.
Fish and Game wants to know about all brown bear sightings in neighborhoods. You can call Fish and Game offices during business hours, or make an online report during after hours, Marsh said.
The state agency has more advice on its website page Living With Bears.
Last year, 34 bears were shot and killed in Municipality of Anchorage, nearly four times more than the year before. Half of the bears were killed by people who said they were defending their lives or property. The other half were killed by police, park rangers or wildlife biologists.