May 27 2010

Bears???

Published by at 7:25 am under Mammals


Let me start by saying that in 17 years of hiking alone I have only once seen a bear in the wild. 

Granted, I have not been looking for them, but now it seems that I stand a better chance of seeing a black bear in my own city neighborhood than out in the woods.

Bears have been big news in Pittsburgh for the past two weeks.  At this time of year teenage bears leave home for the first time (mama bear pushes them out so she can start her next family).  They’re on the move, have no idea where to go, and are looking for a place to call home. 

What’s unusual is that two or more of them are roaming the city and suburbs of Pittsburgh.  Bears have been seen in Tarentum, Natrona Heights, Brentwood, Baldwin, Overbrook and Frick Park.  They’ve been seen so frequently that the Game Commission has set traps for them and my friend, Wildlife Conservation Officer Beth Fife, showed how the traps work on KDKA.  (Beth is also the one who bands the peregrine falcon chicks.  She’s a busy lady!)

But the big news for me occurred in the early hours of Wednesday morning — 3:30am — when my neighbors called the cops on a bear at Magee Field.

I know what that bear was up to. 

I’m a neighborhood cleanup volunteer for Magee Field and I can tell you it’s a black bear’s dream.  There’s a lot of garbage in open barrels and no one gets in your way.  Don’t show up early, though.  There are ball games at the Field until 10:00pm and some nights the drinkers — who happen to be garbage generators — hang out on the bleachers, drinking and eating and leaving a lot of food behind. 

The best way to catch a bear, as Beth will tell you, is with jelly donuts.  During my garbage roundups I’ve found pizza, sandwiches, chips and, yes, donuts.  No wonder the bear stopped by.

So I’m taking Beth’s advice.  I’ve pulled in my bird feeders and will keep my garbage bag indoors until the morning of Garbage Pickup Day. 

City or country the message is the same:  Don’t feed the bears!

(photo by Chuck Tague)

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Bears???”

  1. Marianneon 27 May 2010 at 8:06 am

    It is amazing about the bears coming into the city! They sure know how to find easy food!

    I live in the country and bring my 6 feeders in at night all of the time, due to bears who like fast food. They also have a habit of destroying the feeders in the process. :-(

    I am currently down to one feeder, which is only half full of sunflower hearts. When it is empty, I won’t start feeding again until mid-December. Hopefully the bears will be hibernating well by then. I still bring in my feeders at night just in case though.

    I do keep a hummingbird feeder up all summer.

  2. Joannon 27 May 2010 at 12:46 pm

    We have had some bear sightings around our area as well in NJ. There was a mama bear & her cubs running around the town where I work a couple of weeks ago & they don’t know where she came from but they did finally catch her but I’m not sure if they got the cubs as yet. There was also one running across one of our local Universities but they were able to catch the bear & return it to the wild.

  3. Leslieon 27 May 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I usually see at least one bear a year in my hikes, mostly in western MD or WVA. I’ve seen them with their adorable cubs a few times. and it’s always a thrill. They’re timid animals because the agressive ones are usually killed. I agree with removing the feeders because they get too acclimated to humans, which can make them dangerous. It’s funny that there are so many more in PA but I have to go out of state to see them. I hope I get to see one here! I wonder if a bear would kill a coyote if it ran across one. One can only hope.

  4. Mary DeVon 28 May 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Channel 11 just showed footage of a bear chowin’ down on some tasty bird feeders! This was in Murrysville.

  5. Cory DeSteinon 12 Mar 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I had never seen a bear in 20 years of camping and countless hiking trips, then in 2010 I saw 4 in 1 month!!!

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