Officials at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources have issued a bear warning for residents of North Georgia due to an increase in bear sightings in that region. The prevalence of bear sightings signals a healthy black bear population and is usually the result of younger male bears roaming the mountains in search of a home range they can call their own. During the spring, it’s common for young bears to wander into neighborhoods that border forests. DNR officials stress there’s no reason to be concerned about these visits unless a particular bear shows signs of aggression or repeatedly comes to dine from your trashcans. Living in the Southern Appalachians, it’s likely you’ll see a bear in your hood at some point. Here’s a primer from Georgia DNR on how to best handle the situation.

 –Never feed the bear. Not only is it illegal, it’s stupid.

–Clean and store grills when not in use.

–Keep pet food indoors and take bird feeders down if a bear has been sighted in your area.

–Store your garbage in the garage or switch to a “bear proof” garbage can.

 The goal is to eliminate any potential human food source for the transient bears. If there’s nothing good to eat, the bears should simply move on.

 Find out more about black bears at Appalachian Bear Rescue, a black bear rehabilitation center in Tennessee.