Black bear sighting: Community reacts to Summit Wood Apartments’ latest guest

Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 5:30 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Some are on the hunt, others just want him left alone. But everyone is invested in Summit Wood Apartments’ latest guest.

“This is a whole new thing. I think it’s very exciting actually,” said Shawna Dodge, the assistant property manager at Summit Wood Apartments.

Apartment staff say the first meeting between man and beast took place last Friday morning, while one resident was routinely walking his dog. After reaching the area behind his housing complex, he came face-to-face with a black bear.

“It startled him, and he said something out loud, like get away. Then it just took off running,” Dodge said.

According to Dodge, the bear has been entering and exiting the community randomly. In fact, some residents have decided to set up cameras to catch the bear in the act.

Opinions on the bear vary, but no one seemed to fear the creature. In fact, Beverly Moore said she’s been actively searching for it.

“I would’ve loved to have seen it, I looked. I even drove around trying to find it, but no good. We don’t see much activity here,” Moore said.

Some are showing their appreciation for wildlife in other ways. Kristina Rockefeller said she’s been doing her best to minimize contact with the bear, fearing what might happen to it if it acts out.

“I’m a huge wildlife person. That bear doesn’t know, ‘Hey these are people I cant go near them because if I do, I’ll be euthanized,’” Rockefeller said.

The bear hasn’t been seen since it’s initial sighting but nevertheless the Department of Environmental Conservation, or DEC, has been notified.

Below is a full statement from Jeremy Hurst, DEC Division of Fish and Wildlife Biologist:

Bear conflicts and sightings by the public have recently occurred with a high-low pattern; the high occurring on even years. Likely this is driven primarily by fluctuations in natural food availability, with bears moving around more to find food during years when natural foods are less abundant. Still, we haven’t received an unusually high number of reports or conflicts statewide this year. The perception of increased bear observations may also be influenced by factors such as social media and the increasing popularity of doorbell cameras. This can result in a few bears gaining a significant amount of attention as pictures spread quickly in a community, generating a lot of public interest.

Yearling bears are typically more observable during the late spring and early summer period when these young bears, especially males, will be seeking a new territory after having been dispersed by the sow. Yearling bears will often rapidly transit areas of higher human density and activity, traveling by both day and night. Frequently, humans unknowingly create potential food sources for bears. This may attract bears into close proximity with residential areas and subsequently result in human-bear conflicts. Most conflicts with bears in New York can be resolved or minimized by removing or adequately securing whatever served to attract them. The most common items that attract bears to residential areas are food sources like unsecured garbage, bird feeders, feeding pets outside and messy grills.”

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