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Grin, Bear It: Recent Rise In Hudson Valley Sightings Prompts Warning From Officials

There has been a recent rise in the number of bear sightings reported in Ramapo. Photo Credit: NYSDEC
Officials have recommended using bear-resistant trash barrels. Photo Credit: NYSDEC

A recent rise in bear sightings in Rockland County has caused concern for some elected officials who are warning area residents to be safe.

Ramapo Town Supervisor Michael Specht issued an alert on Monday, Sept. 21 warning that his office has received multiple calls from residents regarding the recent uptick in sightings.

It is unclear whether it is one bear, a family, or a group making the rounds in Rockland.

“My office has received multiple calls from residents who are rightfully concerned about recent bear sightings,” Specht said. “This is the first in a series of updates with tips for reducing human-bear conflicts, securing your garbage, and ultimately staying safe.”

According to environment officials, residents should not leave garbage cans or any food outside to help avoid an encounter with a bear. Bears should never be approached, surrounded, or cornered, as bears will “aggressively defend themselves if they feel threatened."

“Be especially cautious around cubs, as mother bears are very protected,” officials said. “Never run from a bear; stay calm, speak in a loud and calm voice, and slowly back away from a safe distance. Make loud noises by shouting or banging pots to scare the bear away.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation said that “though rarely seen by most New Yorkers, black bears are valued by hunters, photographers, and wildlife watchers.

“Many people enjoy just knowing that bears are present in New York. For many, black bears symbolize wilderness and wildness, but increasingly, bears can be found in semi-rural environments, agricultural areas, and occasionally in urban centers.”

In the event of a bear sighting, wildlife officials offered a series of tips in case of a close encounter:

  • Remain calm and avoid sudden movements;
  • Give the bear plenty of room, allowing it to continue its activities undisturbed. If it changes its behavior, you are too close, back away;
  • If you see a bear, but it doesn't see you, detour quickly and quietly;
  • If it sees you, talk in normal tones and wave your arms;
  • If a bear pursues you, do not run. Throw a personal item on the ground. He may be distracted by this and allow you to slowly escape;
  • A standing bear is not always a sign of aggression. Many bears will stand to get a better view.

"If a bear is seen in your town or neighborhood, leave it alone. In most situations, if left alone and given an avenue for escape, the bear will usually wander back into more secluded areas," according to officials. "Keep dogs under control.

"Stay away from the bear and advise others to do the same. Do not approach the bear so as to take a photo or video.

"Often a bear will climb a tree to avoid people. A crowd of bystanders will only stress the bear and also add the risk that the bear will be chased into traffic or the crowd of people."

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