KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- If you think you've spotted a bear in the last few weeks, researchers say you're probably right.
Experts at the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) say more bears are wandering toward developed areas this fall in search of food.
They say that's because one of their natural food sources is scarce this season.
"This year, the oak mass conditions are at an all-time low," Chris Ryan, Supervisor of Game Management Services said. "So there will be some drastic movements by bears."
Just this week, DNR researchers say a large black bear was hit and killed by a passing car near the entrance to I-77 and I-79 in Charleston.
They say severe weather patterns last year caused the bears' current food shortage, causing them to move closer.
"We had a lot of rain and heavy wind [during] the derecho," Ryan said.
He says keeping your food and trash out of reach is the best way to protect yourself and the animals.
"Don't feed your pet at dark. Put your birdseed away...you don't need to be feeding the birds right now," Ryan said. "Put your trash out only on trash day."
DNR researchers say they get about 800-1,000 complaints of bear sightings every year.
They say most problems can be solved simply by putting your food and trash away.