ODNR: If you see a bear, just stay away

FRANKLIN SQUARE – A Salem Township resident advised the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that a bear was in his backyard recently.

Mark Paskey, who lives in the 1200 block of Jersey Ridge Road, was mowing grass over the weekend and came upon bear droppings and tracks.

A former Colorado resident and member of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department, Paskey is familiar with bears, noting that one had even been inside his house in Colorado at one time.

He noticed evidence of a bear about 12:30- 1 p.m. Sunday. The tracks were clear in the muddy, wet ground and “you could see where it was.”

He took cell phone photos of the tracks and scat and emailed them to the ODNR but they had not been distributed to the northeast Ohio field office District 3 as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Wildlife Research Technician Laurie Garber.

The district covers 19 counties with Jefferson the southernmost.

A black bear was located in downtown Youngstown a couple of weeks ago, Garber said.

“We’re definitely getting in the bear reports,” she said.

“Our bears just now, in May through mid-July, reach the peak of breeding young and are on the move. This is the peak time.”

Garber said since the beginning of the year Columbiana County has reported three bear sightings, one in St. Clair Township on April 12, and two in Liverpool Township on April 14 and May 10.

People are advised to give bears “their space,” Garber said, explaining they are probably more afraid of humans they confront than the people are of them.

“If it goes up a tree it won’t come down while a person is there,” she said.

If there is a bear in the neighborhood, people are advised to remove bird feeders, “they’re number one,” Garber said along with garbage and other food sources and pet foods.

The ODNR website says the bears are usually fearful of people and do not attack or kill children or pets “as long as the bear is given its space and not cornered. People should remain calm if they see a bear, and they should not approach it.”

With sightings picking up, Garber said many reports include bears getting into beehives.

“They definitely like getting into hives,” she said and suggested placing two to three strands of electrified fencing around them to keep bears away.

Black bears are native to Ohio and on the state’s endangered species list and protected by state law.

To report observations of black bears, contact the local county wildlife officer, district wildlife office or call 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).

Go to wildohio.com for more information about Ohio’s black bears.