HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is advising western Maryland residents to take measures to avoid unwelcome visits from hungry black bears.

The agency said Thursday that bears are leaving their winter dens and searching for food.

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Residents are urged to lock their garbage in bear-proof containers or keep it inside until trash pickup day.

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The agency also recommends rinsing trash cans with ammonia to eliminate food odors, keeping cooking grills clean or indoors, and removing birdfeeders from yards from April through November.

State wildlife managers say Maryland has a healthy and growing black bear population.

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