Expert gives advice after bear sightings in Potomac

This time of year, bears may venture further into the D.C. metro area, and there have been multiple recent bear sightings in Potomac, Maryland.

One of the sightings happened Sunday on Windsor View Drive. A resident was able to snap a picture and post it on Nextdoor.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources confirms it has received reports of other sightings in the area too.

State bear biologist Harry Spiker said this is likely a young bear in search of territory, and it won’t be here for too long.

“They eventually want to end up where there are other bears, so they move on,” Spiker said. “Sometimes they’re there for a couple days as they move through, sometimes it takes them a little longer – a week or two – to move through.”

Spiker said the bear likely came from Frederick County, Maryland, or even Virginia. He says the river poses no problem for bears, which are excellent swimmers.

The bear in this case is likely 17 or 18 months old, could weigh anywhere from 65 to 150 pounds and poses a “very minimal” threat, Spiker said. “They’re really just confused kids running around out there.”

Spiker estimates there are about 20 sightings in Montgomery and Howard counties each year, representing two or three different bears.

He urges residents in areas where a bear has been spotted to put away bird feeders and secure trash, so the bear won’t have reason to stick around.

He said if you see a bear, but it doesn’t see you, then just “enjoy the sight.” If the bear does spot you, he says to make yourself look large by extending your arms, while also talking in a calm voice and making sure the bear has an escape route. Running is not a good idea, he said, since bears have a chase reflex.

John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, PA, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP sports.

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