BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon City Councilwoman Mary Albaugh spotted a black bear on the back side of Lincoln Hill early Tuesday morning and wants residents to be on the lookout.
Albaugh said she was at her home on Boggess Street Monday evening when she found bear scat in her front yard, and the next morning at about 6 a.m., she saw a black bear.
“The bear also got in someone’s trash can over on Lincoln Street, and we knew it wasn’t a dog and it wasn’t a cat,” Albaugh said. “We have a lot of people who have animals that they let out at night, so I’m just trying to let everyone know and to be careful.”
Albaugh said she notified the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources office of the sighting, which came on the heels of several black bear sightings in late May and early June.
Capt. Douglas Benson with the West Virginia DNR said although it’s important to exercise caution, unless a bear is actually doing something – such as destroying property or causing harm to a person or animal – there is no need to report the bear to the DNR.
“A bear going through your property or being seen is a non-issue,” Benson said. “A bear coming on your porch and eating the cat food you leave on a porch, that’s not a problem with the bear, that’s a behavior you’re going to have to change – you have to put the cat food up.”
However, Benson said if a bear tried to force a garage door down to get to cat food, that is something to report to the DNR. Benson noted that bears are wild animals and seeing them is part of living in wild, wonderful West Virginia.
“We have bears in West Virginia; we have them in every county, and interactions with humans aren’t a problem until there is a problem,” Benson said. “Just seeing them or them moving around the area isn’t an issue. If we’ve got one that’s been around the area too much or if we have one that got friendly with humans, then we have a problem. But if it’s just passing through, it’s just a sighting.”
If a person witnesses a bear damaging something or doing anything other than just walking or running by, then the person should call the DNR.
“Just seeing one is not a problem, and it is strange to see one in the downtown area, but if you see it in the dumpster in one of our businesses, we have a problem,” Benson added. “If you see it doing property damage, then that is a problem, but there has to be a problem we can correct.”
Benson said bears are generally only motivated by two things.
“Bears are only motivated by two things, food and during the season, breeding,” Benson said. “Those are the only two reasons they go anywhere.”