No lions or tigers, but bears – my, yes

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Residents of Mahoning and Portage counties are probably not used to seeing bears, but that is exactly what has been happening there recently.

Sightings of black bears have been reported at Atwater, Deerfield and Mill Creek Campgrounds. Authorities do not know if this is the same bear that has been seen multiple times, even though they suspect it. In a Review article, Ohio Division of Wildlife spokesperson Jamey Graham said the bear was likely a “young and confused” male, possibly kicked out of his mother’s den and seeking to establish its own territory.

In this regard, the big guy is not that different from a lot of young human adults.

While the bear prospect conjures up macabre – sorry! – Thoughts of mutilation, wildlife officials say this is not the case with this variety. A key strategy is to scare away black bears by making noise and waving your arms.

Encounters with wildlife are inevitable as people encroach on more and more territories where animals once roamed freely. Drivers in the area are certainly familiar with the crossing of deer in front of cars; last month, a deer was seen zigzagging on West State Street, and side streets and rural roads are common crossings for deer and wild turkeys.

Black bears, however, are much less common here in northeast Ohio.

In 2019, National Geographic magazine published “How to Stay Safe Around Wild Animals” on their website. The article was aimed at visitors to the national park, so not all advice is equally valid, depending on one’s location.

For example, if your plan is to stay in Alliance, you won’t need to check the water for alligators before entering. However, there are many other tips that are just as valid for those of us who take nature walks. (animal) side along the Iron Horse Trail or in one of the Alliance’s many parks.

Avoidance is the biggest takeaway. Trying to get close enough to wildlife to capture a selfie is an indication that you are too close. Admire all that is wild just a few more steps away.

It is also not recommended to feed wild animals. (It’s illegal in national parks.) Other than bird feeders, it’s best not to attract wildlife with food. On the one hand, it makes the animals dependent, which compromises their ability to feed themselves. Second, it increases the likelihood that the animal will stay in the area.

While we are on the subject of animals, now is a good time to remind readers to be careful with domesticated animals as well.

In sweltering weather, it is important to provide shade and enough water for our four-legged friends. Also, don’t leave dogs in cars during the summer months. Even on relatively mild days, the sun can heat up car interiors to dangerous temperatures in a very short period of time. It could prove fatal for pets.

Hopefully the visiting black bear moves quickly, while we help our pets stay for a long time.


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