A bear—or possibly bears—is making its way around Cranberry Township.
Cranberry Police Sgt. Chuck Mascellino said bear sightings were reported this week in the Woodbine neighborhood off Powell Road and in
On Thursday, a grassy area in front of the in the Cranberry Business Park on Unionville Road was taped off. Signs posted in the area cautioned people a bear had been spotted in the area. The owners of the on Route 228 also saw a bear about 50 yards from the building.
Mascellino said the sightings could be of the same animal.
“They cover a pretty wide area,” he said of bears.
Cranberry resident Leigh Hall, who was walking her usual two-mile loop of the business park Thursday, was surprised to see the red ticker tape blocking off the park area near Traco. In more than 10 years of walking the area, she said this is the first time she has ever seen a bear warning.
“I’ve never seen a bear before,” she added.
Sightings, however, are not unusual.
Mascellino said typically receives calls around this time from residents who've spotted bears in the area. According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, spring is bear-mating season. Female bears also often are saying goodbye to their cubs and the young bears, who may not know yet to fear people, may roam the area looking for food.
Mascellino had simple advice for anyone who spots a bear—stay away from it. That goes double if the protective mama bear has a cub with her.
Officers typically don’t interfere with the bears unless they pose a hazard to residents or are causing damage to property, said Mascellino.
Anyone who sees a bear may report it to Cranberry Police by calling 724-776-5180.
The game commission also offers advice on how to keep black bears—the only type of bear found in Pennsylvania—away from your property.
Mark Ternent, a black bear biologist, recommends keeping food out of your backyard. This includes unsecured garbage, bird feeders and other food left outside for wildlife.
He stressed bears wandering residential areas in search of food are less likely to stay or return if they don't find anything rewarding.
“If denied easy access to food, bears generally will move on,” he said in a press release. “It is important to remember that attempting to trap and move bears that have become conditioned to food can be a costly and sometimes ineffective way of addressing the problem. That is why wildlife agencies around the country tell people that a ‘fed bear is a dead bear.’”
Ternent listed five suggestions to prevent attracting bears to your backyard:
- Play it smart: Do not feed wildlife. Food placed outside for wildlife, such as corn for squirrels, may attract bears. Even bird feeders can become “bear magnets.” Bear conflicts with bird feeding generally don’t arise in the winter because bears are in their winter dens. During warmer months, bird feeders will attract problem bears.
- Keep it clean: Don’t put garbage out until pickup day, don’t throw table scraps out in the yard, don’t add fruit or vegetable wastes to your compost pile and clean your barbecue grill regularly. If you have pets and feed them outdoors, consider placing food dishes inside overnight. Encourage your neighbors to do the same.
- Keep your distance: If a bear shows up in your backyard, stay calm. Shout at it like you would to chase an unwanted dog. Don’t approach it. If the bear won't leave, call the nearest Game Commission regional office or the police department for assistance.
- Eliminate temptation: Bears that visit your area are often drawn there. Neighbors need to work together to reduce an area’s appeal to bears. Ask area businesses to keep dumpsters closed and bear-proofed.
- Check please: If your dog is barking, or your cat is clawing at the door to get in, try to determine what has alarmed your pet. But do it cautiously, using outside lights to full advantage and from a safe position. All unrecognizable outside noises and disturbances should be checked, but don't do it on foot with a flashlight. Black bears blend in too well with nighttime surroundings, providing the chance for a close encounter.
Although bears shouldn’t be feared, they should not be dismissed as harmless either, Ternent said. In the last decade, bears have injured fewer then 20 people in the state. There are no known records of Pennsylvania black bear killing a human.
If you do encounter a bear, Ternent gave this advice:
- Stay Calm: If you see a bear and it hasn’t seen you, leave the area calmly. Talk or make noise while moving away to help it discover your presence. Choose a route that will not intersect with the bear if it is moving.
- Get Back: If you have surprised a bear, slowly back away while talking softly. Face the bear, but avoid direct eye contact. Do not turn and run. Rapid movement may be perceived as danger to a bear that is already feeling threatened. Avoid blocking the bear’s only escape route and try to move away from any cubs you see or hear. Do not attempt to climb a tree. A female bear may falsely interpret this as an attempt to get at her cubs, even though the cubs may be in a different tree.
- Pay Attention: If a bear is displaying signs of nervousness—pacing, swinging its head, or popping its jaws—leave the area. Some bears may bluff charge to within a few feet. If this occurs, stand your ground, wave your arms wildly, and shout at the bear. Also, you should do the same if the bear appears to be following you. Turning and running could elicit a chase—and you cannot outrun a bear.
- Fight Back: If a bear attacks, fight back as you continue to leave the area. Black bears have been driven away with rocks, sticks, binoculars, car keys and even bare hands.
For more information on the state’s black bears, visit the Game Commission website by clicking here.