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Bear Sightings Tend To Peak In Summer; Do You Know What To Do If You See A Bear?

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Bui Linh 370x278 XL (2) Linh Bui
Linh Bui joined WJZ Eyewitness News in July 2013 as a weekend anchor...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Bear sightings are more common during the summer, especially in June and July. Over the weekend, one bear startled Maryland drivers on a busy interstate.

Linh Bui explains what to do if you have a close encounter.

This time of year, black bears get closer to cities and suburbs. The recent sighting in Montgomery County had a sad ending.

A car struck a juvenile black bear Sunday on 270 in Germantown. The young bear was halfway across the interstate. His injuries were so severe, officers had to euthanize him.

“The whole back end of the bear was not moving. It was damaged so the decision was made to put it out of its misery. It was suffering,” said Maryland Natural Resources Police Officer Richard Doney.

Biologist Jonathan McKnight with the Department of Natural Resources says Maryland’s bear population is expanding and right now, the bears are looking for new habitats. They can travel up to 50 miles a day.

“There are a number of bears that are moving on the edge of the cities and our season hasn’t really peaked yet so we anticipate we’ll see some more,” McKnight said.

Last month, a bear was captured in a DC neighborhood after a woman saw it outside her window. It was released in western Maryland.

Also in June, a bear visited a Gaithersburg home. He munched on birdseed for 30 minutes.

McKnight says absolutely do not feed them.

“It’s especially bad to do things like leave food out or to feed them,” McKnight said.

Once bears get acclimatized to feeding and acclimatized to people, it becomes dangerous and that becomes dangerous for them. People are advised to put trash cans in the garage, bring all food inside and empty bird feeders.

But black bears are typically not aggressive. Even the young bears are big, however. They can vary between 65 and 200 pounds.

The best thing you can do is leave them alone.

“They shouldn’t present danger to people. Just stay away from them. Give them respect and give them distance,” said McKnight.

McKnight says if you spot a bear, treat it like you’d treat a stray dog: give the animal plenty of space and eventually it will move on.

According to DNR, you can make noise to scare the bear away. For example, shout, bang pots or blow a whistle.

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