Summertime bears: Don’t be scared, be cautious

GAITHERSBURG, Md. – Summer is a time for flip-flops, vacations and, yes, bear sightings.

Spotting a bear in the ‘burbs is normal for this time of year, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The most recent sighting was on Thursday morning, when a black bear showed up on a back porch in Gaithersburg. On Wednesday, a young bear was spotted near Quince Orchard Road and Route 28 in Gaithersburg, and a bear was spotted near Middlebrook Road in Germantown on Tuesday.

“In early summer each year, young bears disperse, or move out, to find a territory of their own,” Harry Spiker, DNR game mammal section leader, said in a news release.

Almost all of the sightings are young males moving out from mom.

“They’re kind of like a teenager in the human race,” said Sgt. Brian Albert of Maryland Natural Resources Police.

Bears have been known to travel up to 100 miles in search of space.

Albert estimates the bear spotted Wednesday was 2 to 3 years old, weighing 125 to 140 pounds.

“They’re not a threat to anyone,” he said. “They are just as scared of humans as humans are of them.”

Below are DNR precautions and tips to deal with bear encounters:

  • If you see a bear, give it space and make sure it has an escape route. Don’t approach it or let it be surrounded or cornered ─ much like you would a stray dog.
  • Do not feed bears and remove any food sources. Trash, birdfeeders and grills often lure bears into residential areas. If your hear of a bear report, be sure to store these items in a secure place, such as a garage or a shed. DNR also recommends washing trash cans and using a 10-percent ammonia solution as a disinfectant.
  • Scare bears away by making noise. Shout. Bang pots and pans. Use air horns or whistles. DNR says it is rare when a bear can’t be scared away.

DNR encourages you to report bear sightings to its Wildlife and Heritage Service at 410-260-8540 or after business hours at 410-260-8888.

DNR’s Black Bear Management Plan offers more tips to avoid bears.

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