With the Cementon Fair soon to open, patrons may be treated by seeing a black bear. No, it’s not part of a fair act, but a wild bear was seen (and photographed) last Wednesday running across Main Street and onto the Cementon Playground property.
Two weeks ago a black bear was tranquilized and relocated in the Fogelsville area. And before that, another one popped up in Bethlehem. This was preceeded by another in Bucks County. And a friend recently photographed one running through his parents’ property in Bushkill Township, a place you’d expect to see bear since it’s close to the Blue Mountain ridge.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) says bears are out of their dens and looking for food. And this is why we’re seeing this many of late. The agency says bears will eat human food, garbage, bird feed, pet foods, fruits from trees or gardens, livestock feed and as we all know from Winnie-the-Pooh the cartoon character bear who loves honey, they’ll raid beehives.
The PGC points out that to avoid bear contacts is by removing their food source. And here are their recommendations:
* Don’t put out your trash until the morning of collection day.
* Regularly clean your trash cans with hot water and chlorine bleach or ammonia.
* Clean your outdoor grille after every use and properly dispose of grille grease. Don’t dump the grease out back.
* If you feed birds during summer, you may want to bring the bird feeders including hummingbird feeders, in at night.
* Keep the area around your gardens and fruit trees clean and avoid putting food scraps in compost piles.
* Store trash, bird seed and pet food inside a building, garage or shed, and keep the door closed.
* If you have pets, bring their food pans inside at night. Bears generally steer clear of chained or penned dogs. But unleashed dogs that approach bears may be injured or killed.
This brings up a story told by Gary Alt, former PGC bear biologist, who had a call from a resident in a Pocono housing development who said their dogs killed a bear cub. Upon interviewing the resident and Alt explaining that he could charge them, they replied by saying it was an act of “Mother Nature.” Ironically, a few months later, the same resident called Alt to complain that a bear killed one of their dogs. Alt’s reply to them, “It was an act of “Mother Nature.”
Since corn crops are just coming up, they’ll be targets for bears especially during the milk stage of corn. If you live near a cornfield, you may see a bear during this period.
Placing food out for other wildlife may also lure bears to your property. Because the food is predictably available, notes the PGC, bears will visit the area more frequently. And then they’ll be tempted by other food sources in the neighborhood and become a significant nuisance.
Another point is that congregating bears increases the risk of spreading diseases since bear are otherwise mostly solitary animals. Mange, advises the PGC, is a debilitating condition of the skin and fur that can lead to death as the disease spreads by close animal contact at feeders.
If coming across a bear on your property, the PGC suggests two courses of action. The first is to make loud noises or shout at the bear from a distance. The second option is to leave the bear alone and clean up the bear’s mess after it leaves. Follow up by making sure you eliminate whatever food source that attracted the bear in the first place.
If bears are regularly feeding at a site, encourage your neighbors or community to clean up and close the area, says the wildlife agency. And remember, feeding bears is against the law and putting out feed for any wildlife that causes bears to congregate is also against the law.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.