MARYLAND (WJZ) — Bear sightings in Baltimore and Carroll Counties may have peaked recently, increasing the chances of bear-human contacts.

Alex DeMetrick reports there are ways to make sure bears and people don’t cross paths.  

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Over the past half century, a growing black bear population has forced some young males out of western Maryland, with sightings in Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery Counties. 

“It’ll travel 20 miles or more a day, and travel for over 100 miles in order to find its own territory,” said Patricia Handy, DNR biologist.

In the past few years, bears have wandered as far as neighborhoods in Queen Anne’s County on the Eastern Shore.

“And he was up on two legs and he was reaching up into some berries,” said the witness.

Eventually that bear left for wilder regions.

“Ninety-percent of the time it’s just passing through,” said Handy.

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A bear seen in Carroll and Baltimore Counties is likely doing just that. Biologists think it strayed in from Pennsylvania.

“It was not very big, and looked very thin,” said Deborah Glinoweicki, Jacksonville Elementary principal. 

To help prevent contacts with bears, limit food sources. Keep garbage cans locked inside a garage or shed.  Remove bird feeders and pet food.  Keep grills clean and free of traces of food because bears will sniff out a free meal.

“Waking up in the morning and seeing my bird feeder destroyed.  He got into my trash can,” said the witness.

In rare cases like a bear that got tranquilized in Arbutus near the Beltway four years ago, sometimes they get too close. 

“One of the worst case scenarios, it’s hit by an automobile, and now you have an injured bear in close proximity to far too many people,” said Paul Peditto, DNR Wildlife Heritage.

For some bears, it ends with a nap and a ride back into the mountains. In nearly every other case, they find their own way home.

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Even with the introduction of hunting during the past decade, biologists say growing bear populations and shrinking habitat will mean more bears passing through in the future.