The black bear which was spotted in parks and back yard bird feeders in Damascus last week has moved on – to Germantown.
Maryland State wildlife officials said that the injured black bear was spotted Friday morning moving south into Germantown. “It is injured but still pretty mobile,” said Ken D’Loughy, with Wildlife and Heritage Services of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “I got a call this morning saying it was spotted crossing Rt. 355 this morning headed in this direction. And a hiker spotted the bear while on a trail near Observation Drive. The area that the bear is in now is a good spot, there is a good bit of open space which is part of Black Hills Park. It is a good spot for the bear. We will just give it an opportunity to move on.”
The bear was seen from the trail which runs to the northwest of the Milestone Residential neighborhood west of Ridge Road. The trail runs behind parts of Milestone Manor Land near the open space behind Willam B. Gibbs Jr. Elementary School, and behind parts of Village Green Circle to the far west end of Observation Drive. The trail also runs close to Little Seneca Creek.
“This morning we got reports of a bear near William Gibbs Elementary School and another report of it roaming through the neighborhood,” said Lieutenant James Brown with Montgomery County Police. “It wasn’t running or being aggressive just kind loping along on three paws. We are pretty sure that it is the same bear that was seen up in Damascus last week because of the injured left front paw.”
Brown said the bear was last seen going into the woods in the area of Woodcutter Circle. “Now he’s back in the wooded area which backs up into a portion of Black Hill Regional Park which will allow him to get back to the wilderness,” said Brown.
At one point at a news helicopter was flying overhead in search of the bear. "That helicopter probably chased the bear farther back into the woods. We don't expect him to make another appearance," said Brown.
“I am very frightened,” said Germantown resident C. White who lives in the neighborhood where the bear was last seen, “I have a patio and I am afraid going to come on my property.” She said just moved to the neighborhood and her property backs up the park. “It is not going to get in my Jacuzzi is it? I happen to be an attorney and if the bear touches me I am going to sue it. I am trying to make light of the situation but it is kind of creepy,” she said.
The Montgomery County Police are cautioning residents not to approach or feed bears that they encounter. Furthermore, no one should ever corner a bear, but allow a bear a route of escape or a way out.
In recent years, DNR has confirmed black bear sightings in Montgomery, Carroll, Baltimore, Howard, Harford, Cecil, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties. Sightings typically peak in late June and early July but may persist throughout the summer months. These juvenile bears, which may weigh anywhere between 65 and 200 pounds, eventually move on to more attractive bear habitat.
DNR advises that black bears may be seen any time of day and are typically not aggressive. Below are precautions and tips when dealing with bear encounters.
If faced with a bear, give it space and ensure it has an escape route, do not approach or allow it to be surrounded or cornered ─ much like you would a stray dog.
Do not feed it, and remove any food sources. Trash, birdfeeders and grills often lure bears into residential areas. If a bear is reported in your region, be sure to store these items in a secure place like a garage or a shed.
Scare bears away by making noise by shouting, banging pots and pans, using air horns or whistles.
For more information or to report a bear sighting, contact DNR Wildlife & Heritage Service at 410-260-8540. After-hour non-emergency sightings, please leave a message; after-hour emergency, 410-260-8888. Residents may still call 9-1-1 if there is an immediate threat due to the bear’s behavior.
Top: Montgomery County Police along with Maryland Natural Resources Police and DNR Wildlife and Heritage Service biologists gather at Woodcutter Circle in Germantown which is the last place the bear was spotted. Photo by Germantown Pulse
Next: Police issued this photo of the bear at a bird feeder in a back yard in Damascus last week, it is belived that the same bear has journeyed to the Germantown area. Photo courtesy MCPD.
Next: Black bear seen in John Haines Neighborhood Park in Damascus on Wednesday, June 17. Photo by Michelle Brungard.