Bears in Potomac! No Need to Be Afraid (Or Friendly)

Currently in Montgomery County, black bear sightings are a rare occurrence, and most occur during the months of June and July when young, solitary bears (most often young males) are striking out on their own and traveling considerable distances in search of a suitable home range to call their own. The vast majority of these young bears are transient and they find their way to more desirable bear habitats in western Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia. These sightings are exciting, but can be alarming to residents who are not expecting to see bears traveling through.

Some Maryland wildlife professionals think that Montgomery County will be the next county to be home to a permanent, breeding population of black bears. As more young, solitary bears visit Montgomery County in search of suitable habitat, it is likely that some will begin to find select areas favorable, resulting in the animals staying in the county. This makes it more likely that a breeding population will be established.

The most important thing for the benefit of both bears and people is to keep black bears wild and fearful of humans. The best approach to avoiding negative interactions with black bears is to do your part to not attract bears in the first place. Black bears that become too comfortable around humans can quickly become pests as they exploit potential food sources like pet food bowls left outside, bird feeders, compost piles, trash cans, bee hives, vegetable gardens, fruit trees and agricultural crops.

Park and wildlife officials ask residents to report any Black Bear sighting (and any bold or aggressive bear behavior) to wildlife authorities.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources

For emergencies involving bears or other wildlife around your home or elsewhere in the county, contact the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Emergency Number 410-260-8888.

Maryland Wildlife Information Line

If you experience problems with bears or other wildlife around your home contact the Maryland Wildlife Information Line, toll free, at 877-463-6497

M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks

Wildlife Ecology Unit – 301-962-1344

Western Maryland is home to a thriving population of black bears, and Maryland allows a limited number of hunters a chance to hunt Maryland's largest game animal throughout Garrett and Allegany counties.

SOURCE: https://www.montgomeryparks.org/caring-for-our-parks/wildlife/black-bears/

NEVER FEED BEARS OR OTHER WILDLIFE (intentionally or unintentionally). Feeding black bears can seem fascinating and fun, but it is a recipe for disaster. Feeding bears is illegal in the State of 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.

Keep compost that contains food materials in enclosed bins away from your residence

Keep bird feeders out of reach. Do not overfill bird feeders, and stop filling them prior to the month of April (It has been said that “In April, a bird feeder becomes a bear feeder”)

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.

Report Black Bear Sightings in or Near Parks

Learn More

Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service – Living with Black Bears: http://dnr2.maryland.gov/wildlife/Pages/hunt_trap/bblivingwith.aspx

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