SALEM - A Hampton Place resident reported seeing a black bear between Hampton Place and Countryside Drive in the early evening Sunday. But authorities say the bear has probably left the area.
Perry Township Police Chief Mike Emigh reported no additional sightings since then, but advised if residents do see a bear, they should call the police department at 330-332-1000.
"I have a feeling he's long gone," he said.
The call came to the police department at 6:47 p.m. from Susan Ickman in the 1200 block of Hampton Place. According to the report, neighbors in the immediate area were told to use caution and keep a close watch on their pets.
Police officers and a wildlife officer from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources checked the wooded area where the bear had been seen, but didn't find it. The ODNR representative advised the bear probably moved on, but if anyone in the neighborhood sees it at a later time, they should call the authorities.
Emigh explained that this is the time of year when the mothers drive the young male bears from the den to go out on their own. He also said bears are protected in Ohio, meaning people can't legally shoot them.
"They're going to avoid us more than we're going to avoid them," he said.
Over Memorial Day weekend, a resident on Jersey Ridge Road in Salem Township reported finding bear droppings and tracks in his yard. There had reportedly been three other bear sightings in the southern end of the county earlier this spring.
According to an Ohio Division of Wildlife ODNR summary of black bear sightings in Ohio, there were 158 sightings in the state last year, with 54 of those sightings confirmed with evidence. The 158 sightings involved an estimated 74 individual black bears.
A table which detailed the sightings by county showed three in Columbiana County with none confirmed, seven in Mahoning County with four confirmed and 22 in Trumbull County with seven confirmed.
Information about black bears on the ODNR website at www.dns.state.oh.us said that "most black bears range in size from 100 to 400 pounds, are 5 to 6 feet in length and average 3 feet high at the shoulder. The majority of bears in Ohio weigh between 125-250 pounds, and are juvenile male bears. Dispersing young black bears will often travel great distances in search of new habitat and are most likely to be seen by or interact with humans. These bears are extremely agile and are able to run up to 35 mph, climb trees with ease and swim long distances. Bears are omnivores, meaning they will eat a wide variety of foods. Depending on the season, their diet may include grasses, forbs, berries, mast from oak, hickory, and beech trees, carrion, and insect larvae. Bears will also consume agricultural crops, if available."
Emigh said people will leave trash out and bird feeders and bears can see that as a free meal. Suggestions by ODNR on how to eliminate food attractions for bears which become a nuisance included removing bird feeders, storing garbage in a garage or secure container, keeping pet foods inside, securing beehives, cleaning out grease from grills and picking fruit from berry bushes as soon as possible.
If a bear is seen, Emigh said people should stay inside and call police. They shouldn't try to approach the bear.
"Don't feed the bears and don't leave your picnic baskets," he said.