HARVARD -- Police are warning the public against approaching bears after a high volume of bear sightings and a report that people paused to take pictures with a hungry one on Simon Atherton Row.

On Sunday, police received a report of a bear in a garage going after sunflower seeds, said Officer Daniele Fortunato. The homeowner also reported that people were taking pictures with it.

"I think people ultimately just need to realize they're not domesticated," Fortunato said. "Stay away from them and if you think there's a reasonable concern to call, call."

Fortunato said there's definitely been an increase in the number of bear citings over the past few years -- just two weeks ago there were reports of bear sightings all day long, she said.

People also need to realize that bears can run, Fortunato said.

The state Department of Fish and Game advises residents to secure food by storing trash in a secure container or inside. The department also recommends not leaving garbage outside overnight, and advises people never to purposely feed bears.

Black bears might sometimes pull a "bluff" charge at people -- in that case, the department advises people not to run or crouch but to stand their ground and then move slowly away.

"Please take in your birdfeeders, don't leave food around," Fortunato said.

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