A lone black bear has been spotted several times recently in the Wheaton area, according to the Montgomery County Parks Facebook page.
Parks officials say black bear sightings in Montgomery County have become common in June and July when young, solitary male bears strike out on their own to find a home territory of their own.
Have you ever seen a bear in Montgomery County? Tell us in the comments!
Black bears do not tend to be aggressive, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. But, DNR warns, suburbanites should be cautious and remember a bear sighting outside of the woods is not uncommon this time of year.
“In early summer each year, young bears disperse, or move out, to find territory of their own,” Harry Spiker, DNR game mammal section Leader said in an earlier Patch story. “They have been known to travel 100 miles or more while searching for a suitable place.
One of those “suitable places” is Montgomery County, and there were recent sightings of black bears Howard County, too.
The Montgomery Parks website says most of these young bears will leave for more desirable bear habitats in western Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia. Some Maryland wildlife professionals believe that Montgomery County will be the next county to be home to a permanent, breeding population of black bears.
County parks officials say as more, young, solitary bears visit Montgomery County in search of suitable habitat it is likely that some will find favorable areas and stay in the area indefinitely. As more females find the county suitable and remain here, a breeding population will likely be established.
Here are some black bear safety tips from the Montgomery Parks website:
- Never feed bears or other wildlife (intentionally or unintentionally). Feeding bears is illegal in Maryland.
- Don’t leave bowls of pet food or water outside. If possible, keep all pet food indoors at all times.
- Keep garbage in sturdy, clean containers with tight fitting lids. (Bear proof cans are recommended in areas where bear interactions become common.) Secure all trash cans and clean them regularly to minimize strong food odors as much as possible.
- Keep compost that contains food materials in enclosed bins away from your residence.
- Keep bird feeders out of reach.
- Keep barbeque grills clean and secure.
- Always walk your dogs on a leash.
- Do not tolerate bears becoming comfortable around your yard – encourage them to leave by making loud noises, etc.