Black bear spotted in Arlington neighborhood

A young black bear has been spotted in yards and on porches in the Maywood neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia.

And county officials believe the bear is looking for food and a new habitat.

The bear was first sighted by a Maywood resident. They called the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, which then contacted the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and a Virginia State biologist.


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The bear was also seen Monday morning heading toward Custis Park on the east end of the neighborhood.

“The bear seems healthy and is likely a male yearling moving through Arlington County in his search for a new home habitat,” the Animal Welfare League said in a statement. “We are continuing to update these agencies as the location of the bear changes.”

The last area bear sighting occurred in 2020, when a black bear made its way onto the campus of Bishop ‘O Connell High School in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood.

While the bear has not presented itself as a threat, the Animal Welfare League says the public should keep its distance.

“Unfortunately, in past bear sightings, we have had issues with members of the public going out in search of the bear to take their own photos or see it for themselves,” the agency said. “This is very dangerous, and can cause harm to you, others and the bear.”

Instead, AWLA encourages anyone who sees the bear to keep a safe distance and call 703-931-9241.

Courtesy Animal Welfare League of Arlington

According to the Department of Wildlife Resources, bears have a natural distrust of humans and tend to keep their distance from people. However, if those humans provide food, the bear may become more comfortable and linger in the area.

Among other advice, the state agency strongly emphasizes, do not feed the bear. In addition to creating a hazard, feeding bears is illegal in Virginia.

Instead, it recommends that, if you come upon a bear, keep a safe distance that does not block any route for the bear to leave the area.

“Often a bear in your yard is just passing through and, if it finds no food, will simply move on. Don’t allow the bear to feel comfortable in your yard,” the DWR said on its website. “Remove any non-natural foods that attracted the bear.”

If the bear trespasses onto your property and refuses to leave, DWR suggests, “after ensuring the bear has an escape route, make lots of noise to encourage it to leave.”

They also suggest harassment techniques to get the bear moving.

“Paintballs are a great tool for hazing. They are nonlethal, won’t harm the bear if shot at the rump, but are painful enough to get the bear moving away from homes.”

But the easiest, safest measure to take if you see the bear is to call 703-931-9241.

Approximate area of Arlington bear sightings:

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Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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