Are there more bear encounters in the area this summer?

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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) It seems like we’ve seen a lot of bears this summer.

In a downtown parking garage, or the Transportation Museum, or even in someone’s car.

Are there more of them? Or are we just noticing more?

“I think that people are still surprised that bears are showing up around their homes to eat from their trash can or eat from their bird feeders,” says Jaime Sajecki of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. She's is the black bear project leader for the Department.

And she says it’s not that there are more of them, it’s just that they learn where the food is and remember.

“You know," she explains, "It only takes one time for a bear to get in through open window or into a car, and they’re just so smart that they can figure it out.”

And mothers show it to their cubs.

So, how do you prevent an unwelcome bear visit?

“We tell people, especially in situations where a bear has already visited your home, to make sure that your bird feeder stays down for at least three weeks to a month and that your trash stays somewhere secure or put into a bear resistant container," Sakecki says.

But in the end, it’s just bears being bears.

“I hope people recognize that they’re not there to be scary or obnoxious," She says. "They’re just there to survive.”

You can learn more about bears and how to avoid their visits at the DGIF website: www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear/