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Wandering black bear passes through Salem

Salem Police Chief J.T. Panezott spotted this young black bear in a back yard on East Third Street between North Union and Hawley avenues Tuesday morning after Salem residents first reported seeing the animal on Highland Avenue. Police and the Mahoning County game warden searched the woods behind First Christian Church on East Sixth Street, but didn’t find the bear again. Residents are asked to stay away if they see the bear and call police at 330-337-7811. (Photo provided by Salem Police)

SALEM — City residents should steer clear and call police if they see the black bear first spotted Tuesday morning milling about back yards of East Third Street and moving north, Chief J.T. Panezott said.

“First time in 32 years that I’ve ever seen a bear in Salem,” he said. He came face-to-face with the animal in a back yard on Third Street between North Union and Hawley avenues and snapped a photo.

He was looking at the bear and the bear was looking at him.

“You can tell it’s an adolescent,” he said, estimating the weight between 140 and 150 pounds.

Police first received a call about the bear sighting at 10:05 a.m. in the 300 block of Highland Avenue. When officers responded, they found the bear in the Third Street area. They also posted a notice on their Facebook page to warn residents. Police just wanted the bear to keep moving away from the residential areas — they didn’t intend to hurt it.

Panezott said the Mahoning County game warden responded and joined the search into the woods between East Fourth Street and East Sixth Street behind First Christian Church. Searchers lost the bear in the woods and the calls for sightings stopped.

As they searched, he said “you could definitely tell where it had been because people were pointing.”

According to Panezott, the game warden believed it could have been the same bear that was seen in the Austintown area. Bear sightings have also been reported in New Middletown, Canfield and Boardman.

Residents should stay away if they see the bear — make noise so it will keep moving, don’t feed it, don’t approach it, don’t go near it, just call police at 330-337-7811. The bear appeared to be moving through the area.

Panezott also said to put garbage away, keep containers covered and keep an eye on small animals and kids.

To learn more about black bears in Ohio, visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website at ohioodnr.gov. The Division of Wildlife includes information on many nuisance animals, including bears, their habitats, what they eat and how to bear-proof a back yard, basically what to do if a bear is seen so residents and bears can safely co-exist.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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