CROSS RIVER, N.Y. -- From the looks of the broken and mangled bird feeders in the garden of Cross River resident Gary Trask, the area's black bears haven't gotten sleepy for the winter, at least not yet.
Trask, who says he's never had a problem with bears in the past, was surprised to find his feeders destroyed on Sunday, because he didn't hear a thing.
"They must be pretty quiet because none of my neighbors heard anything either," Trask said. "I'll just bring them inside until the bears hibernate."
Trask isn't the only one with twisted and destroyed bird feeders. Robert Lang of Bedford Corners also noticed that something unusual occurred on the grounds of his property when he recently discovered that rods for his bird feeders had been bent.
Once the bears do decide to hibernate, conservation officials are asking local residents to keep their eyes open for bear dens. They are conducting a survey and said hikers can be one of their best methods of tracking the bears.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) urges anyone who finds a bear den to not approach or disturb the den , but simply to note the location and move away from the site and contact their local DEC Wildlife office with specifics about the den location, including GPS coordinates if possible.
A list of regional wildlife offices is available on DEC's website. The local office for area counties can be reached at 845-256-3098.