HARFORD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — A surprise sighting in northeast Harford County. A black bear makes itself at home in a backyard and the homeowner got it all on video.

Andrea Fujii has the story.

It’s not everyday you see a black bear in your backyard. In fact, lifelong Harford County resident Donna Phipps has never seen one–until Thursday night.

“He just reached up, saw that it was bird feed and knocked it down and started eating out of it,” Phipps said.

She got out her camera, and for one hour the approximately 2-year-old male bear ate and roamed around her property.

Phipps’ grandmother spotted it first.

“I was real excited, I wasn’t scared,” said Emma Lou Swearingen. “It was on the outside and I was on the inside. That made a difference.”

Some Boy Scouts were camping up the road at the time, so neighbors drove up and warned them.

Fifty years ago, black bears were nearing extinction in Maryland, so the Department of Natural Resources took steps to preserve their habitat. And their tracking efforts show the population is growing.

“We’re averaging about three cubs per sow, and that’s nearly twice the rate they get in some of the less fertile parts of the country,” said Paul Peditto, DNR Wildlife Heritage.

Within the last couple months WJZ has reported sightings in Carroll and Baltimore Counties.

Phipps hasn’t cleaned up the bird feed–giving the bear reason for another visit.

“This is their yard, we’re just living in it,” she said.

To slow the black bear population, DNR says they will increase the number of permits for the black bear hunting season come October.

Phipps says a bear fitting the same description was also seen near the Pennsylvania state line.


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