Wildlife experts said that it is the season for bear sightings in the region and that they have been giving out plenty of tips on what not to leave outside where it might attract bears and what to do if you see one:
Don’t panic. Don’t approach it. Back away slowly, say experts at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The young bear in Frederick was spotted around the morning rush hour Wednesday in a grassy area along Route 15 near the Seventh Street exit, officials said. The bear was likely traveling in a culvert that goes under the road into a wooded, meadow area, according to Paul Peditto, a bear expert with the DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.
The road is a fairly busy stretch roughly two miles from Interstate 270. At one point, wildlife experts said they watched the bear cross the pavement at an exit ramp.
Peditto said it was clear the bear was “aware of the automobiles” around him. To wildlife experts, it was a good sign that the bear would make it out of the area on his own if left alone.
Peditto said the bear was likely about 1½ years old and, like black bears commonly do at that age, had left its den.
“In human years, they’re like teenagers at this point,” Peditto said. Mother bears kick out the young male offspring just before the breeding season, he said.
He called the bear a “misplaced teenager.”
Peditto said he spent much of Wednesday tracking and watching the bear from nearby to make sure it didn’t get hurt.
At one point, he said, a wildlife expert shot a dart with a tranquilizer “cocktail” at the bear, but it hit him and bounced out. Peditto said the bear likely did not have enough fat on him for the dart to stick, or it might have struck a femur or hip bone.
“The dart deployed but went in and out so quickly that he didn’t succumb to the chemical cocktail,” Peditto said.
He said officials, hoping the bear would move from the dense area on his own, decided not to try to dart the bear again. At one point, Peditto said, the bear, feeling the summerlike temperatures in his full black coat, laid in the shade alongside the road to cool off.
As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Peditto said the bear was seen “chilling in the culvert underneath the road. Out of harm’s way.
“Hopefully he’s made it to a big state forest.”
There was also a report of a bear Wednesday on the western side of Frederick, Peditto said, and he believed it was a different bear.
If there were more reports coming in of people seeing bears and they were in a dangerous spot, wildlife officials would consider darting and relocating them, Peditto said. But he cautioned that doing that has its own risk: The bear might dart into traffic if it gets scared.
Young male bears typically wander after leaving their mother’s den along the Potomac or Susquehanna rivers until they find a “place of their own” with good bear habitat and no other bears nearby.
“They’re searching for their own habitat,” he said, often in portions of outer Montgomery or Baltimore counties. He said the bears frequently go through developed areas but aren’t always seen.
Peditto said, “On occasion you get one that stumbles into the wrong place and everybody sees it.”