KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Montana wildlife officials are urging residents to pick the low-hanging fruit from their backyard trees to avoid attracting hungry bears.

The Flathead Beacon reported Friday that state Fish, Wildlife and Parks created a Facebook page to help people in the Flathead Valley connect with someone to pick fruit from their yards.

Bears eat ravenously to prepare for hibernation just as fruit begins to ripen. Wildlife officials say picking the low-hanging fruit can help avoid bear-human encounters.

The Flathead Valley program coordinates volunteers to help gather the fruit, which can be donated to food banks, pressed into cider or used for baking.

The agency says garbage, birdfeeders, pet and livestock food and gardens also attract bears.

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Information from: Flathead Beacon, http://www.flatheadbeacon.com