Unexpected Guest! Central New York Homeowner Enjoys Rare Black Bear Sighting
Black bears are on the move in Central New York and one local homeowner just got the shock of her life.
Although black bear sightings are pretty rare here in Central NY, that doesn't mean they can't happen.
The New York's Department of Environmental Conservation recently listed the Mohawk Valley as an area routinely deals with transient bears.
With winter fast approaching, bears have entered their fattening season, and that means they will wander onto people's property in search of tasty snacks.
"Never a Bear!"
This unexpected bear encounter happened in Marcy, when a homeowner was taking some young house guests out to play in the backyard.
WKTV reports a woman named Jodi, who lives around the Fox Road area in Marcy, was heading outside to play with her grandkids when she spotted the hulking animal.
Luckily, the black bear wanted nothing to do with the humans and kept its distance. However, a cute moment was shared between the wild animal and Jodi's 8-year-old grandson.
As the child was yelling farewell to the bear, it seemingly turned around and looked toward the little boy before ambling back into the woods.
The moment was captured on video and shared with WKTV.
As for Jodi, she was never expecting to see such a large creature outside her home. "We see a lot of animals, but never a bear," she exclaimed.
Are Bear Sightings Common in NY?
Bear sightings do occasionally happen in the Empire State.
It's estimated New York has 6,000 to 8,000 black bears in the wild.
Male bears can grow up to 550 pounds while females, called sows, can tip the scales at 300 pounds. Both can grow up to six feet in length.
Currently, bears are working on packing on as many pounds as possible before hitting the snooze button this winter. The plumping process is called hyperphagia, where bears will become super active and food motivated to pack on the pounds.
Unfortunately, bears are opportunistic eaters and will always choose the path of least resistance when it comes to filling their tummies.
You'd be surprised what they can sniff out with their ultra-keen sense of smell.
And that's when they can become a problem.
Keeping Bears off Your Property
Wildlife experts have repeatedly warned the public to not let bears learn to associate humans with food. A bear could be euthanized if it loses its fear of humans.
To prevent that from happening, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation launched a new educational campaign called BearWise.
They outline the steps residents can take to deter hungry bears from invading their yards. New York's DEC encourages residents to consider what a bear would consider food and make a conscious effort to remove the temptation.
Key steps include bear-proofing trash, grills and compost piles.
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When it comes to garbage, which is one of their favorite snacks, residents are highly encouraged to secure their trash in bear-proof bins and to not wheel them out until the morning of collection.
Residents are also encouraged to take down their bird feeders and suet when bears are in the process of hyperphagia. They love bird seed and suet to them is a caloric delight.
Recently, bears are also prone to tear apart grills or smokers. If these items aren't cleaned correctly, bears will dismantle them to get at the grease tray or drippings from the grates.
Bears will also suck down compost piles if they contain discarded food scraps like meat and fruit. For that, wildlife officials say sprinkling lime on the pile will make it smell less interesting to these hungry critters.
What to do If You Encounter a Bear
In the rare instance a bear visits your backyard, you have two options: do nothing and wait for the bear to leave or try to scare the bear away with loud noises.
After the bear leaves, wildlife experts say you should check around your home to find what may have attracted it and promptly remove the temptation.
From there, report the sighting to your regional DEC office and alert your neighbors so they, too, can take these preventative steps.
You can also check out the DEC's Black Bear response menu to better inform yourself about the best steps to take should problem wildlife take a shining to your backyard.