Officials urge caution as black bear sightings now reported in Montrose area

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It seems a black bear or bears has taken a liking to Summit County and has decided to hang around for now.

Residents in western communities reported seeing a black bear wandering around residential yards in Bath and Copley townships and even paying respect to gravesites in a Fairlawn cemetery.

Bath police say the bear was spotted in Fort Island/Griffiths Park off Trunko Road on Tuesday.

More: Black bear spotted in Hudson Springs Park: How to 'bear-proof' your yard

The latest reports of a black bear come on the heels of reports just a week ago from the Hudson area. Other sightings were reported in Peninsula, according to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Wildlife officials say it is not uncommon for black bears — particularly young ones — to wander great distances in search of new habitats and sources of food.

There have been several sightings of black bears in Summit County in recent years.

The bears are usually afraid of people and tend to avoid confrontations.

But wildlife officials say residents should keep their distance if they encounter a black bear.

Eric Albers, the Akron Zoo's resident bear expert, said it is highly likely the bear spotted in the Montrose area is the same one that was in Hudson.

This is the time of the year, Albers said, that young bears are roaming and looking for a place to settle in for the winter.

Most of the bears in Ohio, he said, can be found in Ashtabula and Geauga counties or in southern Ohio in the Hocking Hills area.

"They seem to like wandering through Summit County," he said.

The Akron Zoo is home to a pair of grizzly bears — Jackson and Cheyenne — in its Grizzly Ridge habitat.

But Albers said there have been some indications in the past that a bear did settle here.

He remembers evidence a few years back that a bear had settled in around Twinsburg.

Should you encounter a bear, the Ohio Department of Wildlife suggests you remain "AWARE" and use the following tips.

  • Act calm and do not run.

  • Warn the bear that you are near; talk in a firm, calm voice.

  • Allow space between you and the bear. Step aside and back slowly away. Do not make the bear feel trapped or threatened.

  • Raise your hands above your head to appear larger if the bear approaches. Clap your hands or shout to scare the bear away.

  • Exit the area.

Wildlife officials say residents can do their part by removing potential food sources like bird feeders, securing trash cans and pet food in areas where there have been bear sightings.

Black bears are native to Ohio but hunting in the 1800s pretty much wiped out the population.

Ohio wildlife officials there are now 50 to 100 individual bears that call the state home.

Craig Webb can be reached at cwebb@thebeaconjournal.com.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Officials urge caution as black bear sighted in Montrose area