Bears in the Philly Suburbs - Doug Steimel

I have lived in Chester County PA my entire life and never dreamed of seeing a bear there.

Right now the entire area is buzzing with bear sightings.  It seems one has wondered down from the mountains and has taken up in our town.   This is exciting news for myself and terrifying news for others.  

The only bear you will find in PA is an American Black Bear.   Males can get as large as 600lbs and females a very modest 200lbs.  

Their main diet consists of plants, roots, berries, acorns and garbage.   Garbage is the easiest and favorite meal of the black bear.   Families in the mountains are bear trained about when to put out their garbage and most have bear proof bins.  Chester County has neither of these things.  

My biggest fear is that someone is going to take it upon themselves to shoot this bear.  We have all seen movies and most recently that Leo movie that shows how aggressive bears can be.   A Grizzly bear is much larger and needs many more calories to survive and must incorporate meat into its diet.   They are aggressive even towards humans.

The American Black Bear is as shy an animal as you will find in the wild.   I have had 3 bear encounters in my life even though I have spent very few days in bear country.

If you encounter a Black Bear give the bear space.   If it sees you, then you are too close.   If you are able to observe the bear from a distance then do so, but do not approach the bear.   The bear will give you warning signs that include "bluffing."   The bear will fake like he is going to charge you.   He won't charge you.   The bear has no interest in fighting you.   Its way more energy than he wants to expend. 

If a bear stands up on its hind legs it is not a sign of aggression.   He has poor eyesight and he is trying to smell you to see what you are.  

If a bear takes interest in you do not run.   Stand your ground.   Put your arms up and out to show the bear how large you are.   Speak firmly to the bear.   He can't understand you, but your tone is what matters.   Tell him to go away.  

Every person I speak to says the same thing about Black Bears.   They will attack you if their cubs are near.  This isn't something I want to test, but many people feel this is not true.   Many park rangers have reported females with cubs running up the first tree she sees when they approach, even when she has cubs.  

The biggest problem I currently see facing the American Black bear is people.   People aren't staying in one place any longer and many people are moving to rural areas because its cheaper.   They have no grown up around beers and they are motivated by social media.   If you are trying to get a "selfie" with a bear you are putting yourself and others in danger.   The less space we give bears the less they will give to us.   If you draw in a bear with food he will expect food the next time he sees people.   A bear's stomach is his main motivator.  

For your own safety and the safety of others forget about the Facebook post about the bear and post more photos of your cat, because we have been wanting more.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published