Here's What to Do If You See a Bear

Two separate sightings of black bears in Croton this week—and more in Rockland—have Westchester residents wondering how to handle these furry neighbors.

Following similar reports in Rockland County this past week, the Village of Croton-on-Hudson Police Department has notified residents that it has received reports of bear sightings in Westchester County.

The first call came in from Cleveland Drive around 1:25 p.m., with a second sighting on Mountain Trail a few minutes later around 2 p.m. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation lists Westchester — along with Rockland County, New York City, and Long Island — as “incompatible for bears,” but their presence farther north leads to the occasional sighting.

Black bears, according to the department, are intelligent, curious, and omnivorous, making them prolific scavengers. (Females can grow to be up to 170 pounds on average, while an adult male can weigh as much as 300 pounds.) That being said, that same intelligence will lead black bears to seek nourishment elsewhere if they find nothing of value in human-populated areas, as the prefer to avoid us.

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If you spot a bear, the Croton-on-Hudson Police Department asks that residents report it by calling their non-emergency line at 914.271.5177.

If you do encounter a bear outdoors, the DEC recommends the following:

• Stay calm, speak only in a loud, calm voice, and slowly back away from the area. Do not run.
• Do not throw your food at it. This only teaches the bear that it can acquire food from humans.
• You may attempt to scare a bear from your yard by shouting or banging pots and pans. Once gone, remove anything from your yard that may have attracted the bear.
• If a bear becomes aggressive, raise your arms and speak in that same loud clear voice while backing away. If it follows or charges, stand your ground.

Check out the DEC website for further information on dealing with more aggressive bears, but keep in mind that they are generally easy to frighten off. If you see a bear, call your local police department’s non-emergency number first, and let trained wildlife experts remove the bear if necessary.

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