A homeowner thought he had a problem with feisty raccoons, but when he put up a trail camera, he learned that the culprit that had been raiding his bird feeder was a hungry black bear. Credit: Courtesy of Arthur Ahrens

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine wildlife officials are warning residents that a dry summer this year could lure bears to residents’ backyards.

Dry summers can cause shortages of the natural foods black bears eat, such as berries and beechnuts. Hungry bears then go looking for bird feeders, grills, trash cans and livestock.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said conflicts between people and bears are most common in the spring and early summer. That’s when bears emerge from their winter dens.

The wildlife department said nuisance bear visits can be avoided by removing or securing the food sources that attract them. That also includes grills and compost.

Maine is home to the largest population of black bears in the eastern U.S.

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