ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany’s Washington Park had an unwelcome guest nestled high up in a tree last Tuesday morning. Locals couldn’t help spotting a sleepy black bear!
“It’s an unusual situation but not too uncommon to have bears moving around, finding new spaces this time of the year,” said Jeremy Hurst, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). And while this black bear rose to fame in the big city, Hurst said he thinks it came from the southern part of Albany County.
“When they see people, they generally escape. With this one, the escape was up in the tree. So that’s a safe space for the bear and a safe place for people,” said Hurst. “The bear didn’t have a natural place to leave, we intervened and moved the bear. Most times we don’t do that, we just allow the bear to come down and find its way out.”
Overall, bear and human contact is uncommon in New York, with attacks rarer still. The Washington Park bear was chemically immobilized and removed from the tree using safety nets to help cushion the fall. Hours later, the omnivore was examined and released into the Catskill Mountains, where it was beary happy to be home.
If you do see one of these creatures, don’t approach, because bears are curious like humans. If you encounter one, slowly move away and give it space.
“Just let them know you’re here. They’re going to scamper off,” said Hurst. “If they don’t, they might be a little curious because they see something that’s unusual. Make yourself big and raise your arms up, stay together as a group and yell to the bear.”
In rural areas, bears are attracted to garbage. When bears get into trash cans, they may choose to return, moseying back down your street on the next garbage day.
“If a bear is at your house, it’s going to be at your neighbor’s house too. So, let your neighbors know,” said Hurst. “Take the same steps to prevent bear problems or the attractiveness of a bear. We protect the bear and we protect ourselves.”
Try taking your trash out the morning of garbage day, instead of the night before. Also, officials with the DEC encourage taking birdseed out of bird feeders by April 1 so as not to tempt the beasts.