MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is warning residents about displaced, agitated bears due to the fickle winter.

Bear project leader Forrest Hammond says a lack of snow exposes dens and winter rain can make bears uncomfortable and restless. These factors can cause bears to awaken and abandon their dens.

The department says there have received reports of bears at bird feeders, in residential areas and in the back country. A bear is reported to have killed a hunter's beagle in Elmore.

The department says disrupted bears sometimes produce nests of spruce boughs in dense evergreen thickets so hare and rabbit hunters should be extra wary of these areas.

Hammond advises all hunters, hikers, skiers and travelers to avoid any areas with bear tracks.