There have been several postings on social media about bear sightings here in North Royalton, but George Stuart, North Royalton Senior Animal Control Officer, said that nothing has been reported to North Royalton Animal Control. Black bears can be found in Alaska, Canada and the contiguous United States, and also parts of Mexico. Locally, black bear sightings have been confirmed in Hudson, Bath, Wadsworth, and Norton since the end of June.
Although not common, black bears have been reported from time to time. The last time bears have been seen in neighboring communities was in 2018, when bear sightings took place in Hudson, Brecksville and Hinckley Township. Stuart said that they usually come from western Pennsylvania, but don’t stay, as there are not sufficient opportunities to make a den.
Ursus Americanus, the black bear, is the most common species of bear in North America. They are crepuscular, meaning they are most active early in the morning and late in the evening. They are omnivores; eating a variety of foods, such as fruits, insects, grasses and meat. Most range in size from 100 to 400 pounds and are about five-six feet long and about three feet tall. They can run up to 35 miles per hour and are agile climbers and swimmers.
Black bears were once very common in this area. Due to unregulated hunting, it all but obliterated them by 1850. Estimates by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) place the bear population to be somewhere between 50 and 100. They are thought to have wandered from Pennsylvania, where the population is about 18,000. Young black bears sometimes travel great distances in search of new habitat with lower bear populations, like Ohio, to avoid confrontation with older males that are very territorial during the summer months when mating occurs, according to Cleveland Metroparks officials. The mating season runs from mid-May to early-July every other year.
“Black bears are large animals and can cause significant damage while in search of an easy meal,” according to ODNR officials. To ensure that a bear does not become a problem, one that loses its fear of humans and causes damage, searching for food, all potential food that could attract a bear must be removed; such as,
• All types of bird and wildlife feeders
• Any type of trash receptacles
• Pet food
• Grease from grills
• Fruit (pick fruit from berry bushes as soon as possible)
According to the ODNR, “Black bears are usually fearful of people; therefore, bear attacks are a rare occurrence. Bears do not attack or kill children or pets as long as the bear is given its space and not cornered. The first thing to do when you see a bear is REMAIN CALM. Generally, black bears are non-aggressive and prefer to flee from the area as soon as they are aware of your presence. If you encounter a bear, and it is not aware of your presence, simply back away from the area slowly. If the bear is aware of your presence and it does not leave the area, avoid direct eye contact with the animal, give the bear an easy escape route and again, simply back slowly away from the area. Always avoid running or climbing trees, which may provoke a chase. An easy way to remember this is to be AWARE:
•Act calm and do not run.
•Warn the bear that you are near; talk in a firm, calm voice.
•Allow space between you and the bear. Step aside and back slowly away. Do not make the bear feel trapped or threatened.
• Raise your hands above your head to appear larger if the bear approaches. Clap your hands or shout to scare the bear away.
• Exit the area.”
Stuart said that if a black bear is seen, residents should call the ODNR in Akron at 330-644-2293.
By GLORIA PLEVA KACIK