Recently, some residents in the Motter Avenue and Spring Valley areas recently spotted a black bear in their neighborhoods. But that’s not unusual. Harry Spiker, the State Black Bear Biologist for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, says these animals have just awakened from hibernation, and are searching for food. He says the plants, berries and insects they eat are not yet available. He says they’re attracted by bird feeders and the food waste in residential trash. “If they happen to be roaming in the area and they smell it, then they’ll come,” says Spiker. “Once they get a meal, they’re intelligent animals and they’ll remember and they’ll come back again.”
Spiker says if you find a black bear in your backyard, don’t corner it. “You just want to give it space and let it go,” he says. “Make some noise. Make it uncomfortable for them from a comfortable distance.”
He says black bears are not dangerous. “Knocking on wood here, we’ve never had a person attacked by a bear in Maryland. They are wild animals, and if you treat them like you would a stray dog, then you’re doing everything right. Just give them space. Make sure you give them an escape route, and don’t invite them there with foods,” he says.
Spiker says other ways to keep black bears off your property is bring in your bird feeders, and put your trash out on the day it will be collected, not the night before. DNR also says wash out your trash can with ammonia to eliminate food odors, and keeping cooking grills clean of food residue.
The black bear population has been increasing in western Maryland, including Frederick County, says Spiker. “Frederick County has some really good bear habitat, particularly in the northwestern part of the county,” he says. “So we are seeing the bear population increase. The possibility to see a bear is better than it has been.”