Bears are waking from their long winter slumber every day now, and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife reminds homeowners that they will be hungry and looking for food.

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When bears come out of their winter dens throughout the state this spring, natural food is not readily available to them. That means bears may be encountered in backyards where bird feeders and garbage containers provide them with easy access to food.

Last year, the Maine Warden Service got 870 bear-related complaints, compared to 395 in 2010 and 436 in 2011.

The number of bear conflicts usually diminishes during late summer when berries begin to ripen, making it easier for bears to find natural food.

Be on the lookout for bears this spring and steer clear of them. But if you do encounter one, you should make loud noises to try to scare it off and always back away from the bear to give it an escape route.

For more tips in avoiding bears this spring, click here.