Two local residents captured photos of black bears near their homes over the weekend in the Bradford area.
For Amber Burr, a Jackson Avenue resident, and her family, their bear sighting was a first. The bear was spotted at 3:30 p.m. Monday. The family’s golden retriever was quick to protect its territory, chasing the bear up a nearby tree.
Meanwhile, Seaward Avenue residents Anita Nagel and her husband were surprised by a bear near their home across from Emanuel Lutheran Church Saturday evening.
Nagel explained that her husband heard a noise outside around 7:45 p.m., and when she went to see what it was,
“I open the door, and there he is,” she said. “I slammed it quick.”
Nagel was surprised the bear was willing to travel in an area where the road sees steady traffic.
As spring turns into summer, these sightings and human-bear interactions are likely to increase.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, black bears are likely to leave when they hear people coming. In the case of a face-to-face meeting with a bear, that animal, in most circumstances, did not have time to leave. It is wise to make noise, make sure the bear is aware of your presence.
Next, back away slowly, keeping the bear in your line of sight.
Black bear attacks are a rare occurrence, the Game Commission website notes. Keep in mind that a bear rising to stand on its back feet or moving closer may not be showing aggression. Instead, these may be signs the bear is trying to identify you by scent. Bears show discomfort by clacking their jaws together or swaying their heads from side to side. These signs are clear indications you should attempt to leave the area.
In the instance you find yourself dealing with a black bear showing aggression or charging at you directly, the recommendation is to fight back. Use any weapons within reach, from a backpack or set of binoculars to rocks, sticks or your hands. This is likely to drive the bear away.
For those with pets, it is wise to keep them leashed while walking in the woods. Check the yard before letting an animal out of the house, and be sure to avoid leaving food out for your furry friends, as this can become a food source for a bear as well.
If the bear is on your property, the options are few. The first is to make loud noises and attempt to drive the bear away. Remain at a distance.
The other option is to leave the bear alone and clean up any messes it causes — after it leaves the area.
Keep in mind that garbage, food for other animals and even bird feeders can be a draw for black bears. If you see a bear on your property, the best thing to do is to suspend filling bird feeders and avoid putting garbage outside where bears can access it.