Have you ever seen a bear in Bel Air? Tell us in the comments!
Teri Sigworth called police Jan. 29 when the flood lights activated at her Rochelle Drive home and she saw what she thought was a person; but when she called police, a sheriff's deputy told her the tracks were those of a bear, the newspaper reported. Bears have five toes and a foot pad.
Typically, Maryland's bear population is concentrated in Washington, Allegany, Frederick and Garrett counties, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and most stay within a 10 to 25-mile radius of where they live.
However, baby bears may roam up to 200 miles in a process called "dispersing" in which they try to find their own territory, according to natural resources officials.
Bears may pass through suburbs before settling down in more rural areas. After traveling through Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Montgomery counties, young bears usually settle in places with established bear populations in western Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, according to the Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service.
In summer 2012, Bel Air Patch reported there were bear sightings in Darlington.
The Susquehanna River is "a great travel corridor" for wildlife, the Department of Natural Resources told The Aegis.
On Feb. 25, Sigworth's brother, who lives in Edgewood, was house-sitting for her in Fallston when he said he saw "a big old bear behind the woodpile," The Aegis reported.
If people see bears, the Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service suggests backing away to give them plenty of space.
"A crowded bear may huff or make a woofing noise at the threat. They may also swat the ground, pop their jaws, or even bluff charge the perceived threat," according to the wildlife and heritage service.
"When a bear bluff charges, it may stop several yards or just a few feet short of the threat," the wildlife and heritage service said. "Remember not to run, as running may incite a bear’s natural 'chase reflex.' Stay calm. Remain upright and back away from the bear."
Officials also advise not making eye contact, which the bear may perceive as a threat. To scare a bear away, the Department of Natural Resources suggests making loud noises like banging pots and pans and using air horns or whistles.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources advises citizens not to feed bears, which may be looking for food during a time when their food source is scarce. Here are some tips from the department for residents:
- Seal garbage containers.
- Rinse garbage cans with ammonia to remove food odors.
- Clear outdoor grills of food residue or move them inside.
- Remove bird feeders from April through November, when bird food is readily available.