This black bear who wandered into a back yard on Whitten Road in Kennebunk Monday morning may have been disappointed to find it was used only for wood ashes and not tasty trash. Homeowner Ted Bukowski said he’s lived at the property for 20 years, and it was his first bear sighting there. Courtesy Photo/Ted Bukowski

KENNEBUNK – Ted Bukowski looked out the window of his Whitten Road home on Monday morning, just about 6:50 a.m., and saw a black bear in the backyard.

“I’ve lived here 20 years and this is a first,” said Bukowski. “I saw a moose 10 to 15 years ago, but this really woke me up.”

The bear reached up to a birdfeeder attached to the clothesline to grab some seed for breakfast, wandered over to a galvanized trash can – and was presumably disappointed to find it had held only wood ashes and not some enticing, stinky trash.

Bukowski was alerted to the bear meandering in his back yard by Freddie, his Australian cattle dog.

“I heard him growling,” said Bukowski. So, he investigated and saw the bear, which he said looked fully grown.

Bukowski took some photos, and then Freddie barked and the bear ran away into the woods. Bukowski called his neighbors, to let them know there was wildlife around.

“I thought he was going to climb a tree,” said Bukowski, and the last of his series of photos of the bear shows that possibility, his – or her- paws on the trunk, head turned to glance over a shoulder.

Mark Latti, spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said it is not uncommon to receive calls about bear sightings in Kennebunk and Wells.

“We’ve gotten multiple calls from those areas in the last five years,” he said.

Latti said bears are out because of a couple of reasons this year – items like bird seed are easy pickings, so they go after it, and because it’s a dry season.

Bears love birdseed – especially black oil sunflower seed, said a spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife – as attested by this bear who wandered into Ted Bukowski’s Kennebunk back yard on Monday morning. Courtesy Photo/Ted Bukowski

“Some foods aren’t necessarily available yet, like wild strawberries and blueberries,” because of the dry conditions in the woods, said Latti. “We get 400 to 500 complaints a year, but during a drought, it increases.”

So, a few words to the wise for homeowners.

Bring your bird feeders inside at night, for one, Latti said.

“They love black oil sunflower seed. Its high in calories, and readily available,” said Latti.

Latti also cautioned homeowners to keep their trash receptacles inside a garage or shed, and to not feed pets outside.

He also noted that those with chicken coops might see bears around.

“They love chickens,” he said, along with chicken feed. And of course, beehives are attractive to bears, as well – as readers of Winnie the Pooh will remember.

This bear, who looks like he is about to climb a tree, had been wandering around the back yard of a Whitten Road resident on Monday, and was scared away by the barks of Freddie, an Australian cattle dog. Courtesy Photo/Ted Bukowski

Maine is home to the largest population of black bears in the eastern United States, according to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Black bears in Maine are most active between April 1 and Nov. 1.

Latti said the department advises that if there are bears hanging out around the property, enjoy watching from a healthy distance to avoid the potential of a bear becoming aggressive.

Noise can entice them to leave, and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife suggests shouting, banging pots and pans together, or something similar.

At the Bukowski household, the Australian cattle dog’s bark did the trick.

“Freddy did his job,” and the bear ran away, said Bukowski.

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