Bear sighting no big surprise to wildlife experts as population grows

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DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife says sighting of a black bear is not a surprising development.

“Black bear populations within neighboring states of Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have expanded over the past several decades. As a result, it is not unusual for a bear find its way into Delaware,” Fish and Wildlife noted in a release.

The bear was found in Wilmington’s busy Trolley Square area, with Fish and Wildlife teams on the scene to tranquilize the animal and send it to a more suitable area than the busy neighborhood. Traffic disruptions were reported with store patrons in the area told to shelter in place.

The bear that now has the popular hashtag #delabear later left Trolley Square as news helicopters circled the area. It is believed to have moved into adjacent parks outside Trolley Square, with personnel ordering people to leave the area. The hashtag apparently came out of 2016 bear sightings in the Newark area.

The division issued the typical cautionary notes in the event that the bear shows up at your business or home.

  • Do not approach, attempt to touch, feed, or shoot at the bear. Back away slowly – give it space. Go inside and wait for the bear to leave. Once inside, please contact Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police at 800-523-3336 to report the sighting.Keep in mind, most bears fear people and will retreat when they see you.
  • Eliminate potential food sources that could attract the bear by cleaning or removing anything outdoors that may smell like food. This includes:
    • Locking garbage in a secure trash container, or keeping it inside until the day of pick-up.
    • Rinsing trash containers with ammonia to eliminate food odors.
    • Temporarily discontinuing the use of backyard compost piles.
    • Storing cooking grills inside or keeping them clean of food residue.
    • Temporarily removing birdfeeders ─ there are many wild food sources for birds during this time of year.
  • If you have animals, particularly dogs or cats:
    • Keep their food indoors. If animals are fed outdoors, only feed the animal what it will eat in one sitting to ensure that there is no food remaining.
    • Corral livestock close to buildings and use outdoor lighting at night.
    • If you have electric fencing, make sure it’s turned on to protect chicken coops, livestock nursery pens, etc.
    • Promptly dispose of dead farm animals.
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