VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- Following a recent flurry of bear sightings, Virginia Beach Police is advising residents on ways to avoid interacting with the wild animals.

A black bear has been roaming the West Neck and Indian River Road neighborhoods over the past few weeks, and a video of it crossing the street went viral earlier this month.

Black bears are native to the region and have been known to come to residential areas in search of food. Police are offering the following suggestions to minimize the chances of accidentally luring a bear to your neighborhood:

  • Remove the bird feeders. It is best not to put out food for birds from April–November. Instead, plant native seed-bearing plants or use water features to attract birds to your home.
  • Secure your garbage. Store garbage indoors, in a shed or garage, or in a bear-proof container. Put garbage out on the morning of pickup, not the night before, or take it to the dump frequently.
  • Pick up pet food. Feed pets only what they will eat in a single feeding or feed them indoors. Remove all uneaten food. Do not leave food out overnight.
  • Do not put meat scraps in the compost pile. Keep compost away from house.
  • Pick up and remove ripe fruit from fruit trees and surrounding grounds.
  • Clean the grill often. Do not dump drippings in your yard. Run the grill an extra 5 minutes to burn off grease.
  • Don’t store food, freezers, refrigerators, or trash on porches.

Police say if you see a bear, enjoy watching the animal from a distance. If you come into close contact, back away slowly and remember that bears have a natural distrust of humans and will run when given a safe escape route. If it is up a tree, leave it alone. Keep people and pets away from the tree to allow the bear to leave your property.

If you have an emergency please call 911, if you need to speak with an animal control officer you can call the non-emergency number at 385-5000.