Frederick buzzing over black bear sighting

There is a bit of a nervous excitement going around Frederick over a Black Bear sighting in the Downtown, Historic district this past weekend. 

The Maryland state expert on bears shouted something to the effect of, "Whoa, that’s a big one!" when FOX 5 showed him the Frederick community photos, keeping track of the furry visitor online.  

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"I’ve spent my whole life wanting to see a bear live in Frederick County," said Susan Witmer, whose neighbor snapped a photo of the large bear in her driveway, "I’ve been at my mother’s yard, who lives in Gambrills. I take my granddaughter searching for bears. And I go to Walgreens for 30 minutes and my neighbor sends me a picture saying, ‘look what’s in your driveway.’ I thought it was pretty cool myself."

"It’s big. Scary. I mean, I really don’t want to see him. I would like to see him far away but not up close!" said Andre Beckwith, who saw photos of the bear online.

State and area officials do not know if the animal is a male or female. Neighbors began posting about the visitor on the Facebook Group: "Everything Frederick." A post from Just before 3 p.m. Sunday showed the large bear making its way over a chain-linked fence, bending that fence underneath it. The person posting also noted the bear to be headed toward Thomas Playground.

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Some were concerned of children and families outside, playing in the area Sunday. FOX 5 was told it was seen sleeping and stretching in the shade, in someone’s backyard.

A Sergeant with Frederick Animal Control tells FOX 5 Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) normally handles these situations but that they also hadn’t received any calls as of Monday afternoon, believing the bear went back to the woods.

Maryland DNR Bear Biologist Harry Spiker believes the bear is likely an adult. He also said from June until early August is Black Bear mating season, with July 4th landing around mating season "peak time."

"This is the time of the year, hormones take over the brain so they’re going to be a little more risk taking than the rest of the year," said Spiker, who added, "If you see the bear, it doesn’t know you’re there. Enjoy the view. If you see the bear, it does know you’re there, just make your presence known. Make yourself look large. Hold your arms up. And then just talk to it, back out."

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Whatever happens, do not corner the bear in any way, Spiker told FOX 5.

He and at least one other official said there’s three things everyone can do to keep both humans and bears safe are take away bird feeders and put the trash out day-of, so you’re not inviting bears over for food. Wildlife experts also say it is important for for dog owners to mindful of their pets in backyards and roaming off-leash as Black Bears roam the area. They’re just talking about small dogs either.

Spiker said there have only been two bear attacks in recorded history. The most recent was in September 2020. Spiker recalled a Gambrills, Md. woman attacked by a bear after her German Shepherds, who were both off-leash, chased a bear. The state expert said the bear followed the dogs back to the owner and charged the woman, seriously injuring her.

"A bear’s got a 10 square-mile home range, so they cover a lot of ground. And this time of year, they even go outside their normal home range seeking mates, so it’s hard to say. They may hang out for a couple of days and boom, you’ll never seen them again," said Spiker, who also said the juvenile bears are dispersing right now as well.