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Upper Macungie Township Police Department
Friday August 4th, 2017 :: 03:37 p.m. EDT

Community

The UMTPD has an important message for you! *Bear Safety*

We've had some reports of bear activity recently in Upper Macungie Township, as well as in other areas in the Lehigh Valley, so we thought it might be useful to share some insight directly from the Pennsylvania Game Commision on living with black bears. Here are some important excerpts, however, you can read the entire article here:

http://www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/WildlifeSpecies/BlackBear/Pages/LivingwithBlackBears.aspx

IF YOU LIVE IN BEAR COUNTRY

If you live in bear country, you may need to make some accommodations to coexist peacefully with these large animals. Make sure you don't encourage bears to become problem bears by letting potential food sources attract them into residential areas.

Black bears will eat human food, garbage, bird feed, pet foods, fruits from trees or gardens, and livestock feed. They also raid cornfields and beehives. Once bears find easily accessible food sources, whether on a farm or in a housing development, they will keep coming back as long as food is available. With every returning trip they slowly lose their fear of people, which can lead to bolder attempts at accessing food, and as time spent near people increases, so does the risk of being struck by a vehicle or becoming a more serious nuisance. The best way to get rid of these unwanted visitors is to remove or secure food sources. A persistent bear may damage property, increase the risk of human injury, or become an unwanted visitor in other parts of the neighborhood. And, all too often, fed bears become dead bears.

Perhaps the best way to keep bears from being attracted to your home is to keep them from finding food there in the first place. Don't put out your trash until the morning of collection day. Be sure garbage cans are cleaned regularly, with hot water and chlorine bleach. Clean the outdoor grill after every use, and properly dispose of grill grease. Don't dump the grease out back. If you feed birds during summer (and if you're living in bear country, you shouldn't be), you may want to bring all bird feeders, including hummingbird feeders, in at night. Keep the area around your gardens and fruit trees clean, and avoid putting food scraps in compost piles. Store trash, bird seed and pet food inside a building, garage or secure shed, and keep the door closed.

If you have pets, bring their food pans inside at night. Bears generally steer clear of chained or penned dogs. Unleashed dogs that approach bears, however, may be injured or killed. If you have a dog in bear country, don't let it roam far from the house, leash it whenever you hike in the woods, and keep it in the house or in a kennel at night. It’s also a good practice in bear country to take a quick look outside before letting a dog out into the yard, especially at night.

Beehives attract bears, especially right after the bruins come out of hibernation in the spring and during the peak honey production period of late summer and fall. Electric fences are the best way to protect bees, honey and equipment. Contact the appropriate Game Commission region office for information about fencing. Electric fencing can also be used to protect fruit trees and gardens.

Black bears are also attracted to corn, especially in the milk stage. Bears can devastate cornfields. Contact the appropriate Game Commission region office if bears are causing extensive damage; officers may be able to help.

Placing food out for bears, even if intended for other wildlife, can be particularly troublesome. Because the food is predictably available, bears may visit the area more frequently, speeding up the habituation process. Bears that frequent these areas are often tempted by other food sources in the neighborhood, too, where they can become a significant nuisance. They may raid bird feeders, clean out dog dishes, kill domestic animals, or rifle through garbage containers. Moreover, feeding congregates bears, which significantly increases the risk of spreading disease since bear are otherwise mostly solitary animals. Mange, which is a debilitating condition of the skin and fur that can lead to death, is an example of a disease spread by close-animal contact at feeders.

If you come across a bear on your property, there are two possible courses of action. The first is to make loud noises or shout at the bear from a distance – like you'd react to a dog getting into your trash. The second option is to leave the bear alone, and clean up the bear's mess after it leaves. Follow up by making sure you eliminate whatever attracted the bear in the first place. You may need to talk to your neighbors, as well.

If bears are regularly feeding at a site, encourage your neighbors or community to clean up and close the area.

Feeding bears is against the law. It is also against the law to put out any feed, for any wildlife, that is causing bears to congregate or habituate to an area.


WHAT TO DO IF YOU MEET A BEAR

Bear attacks are extremely rare, especially considering how often people encounter them. In most cases, a bear will detect you first and leave the area long before you'll ever see it. However, if you do meet a bear before it's had time to leave, here are some suggestions. Every bear encounter is different.

Alert the bear — If you see a bear, make some noise to alert the bear of your presence, giving it ample time and space to turn and leave. Avoid being caught up in the excitement of seeing a bear and inadvertently letting the bear get too close before surprising it.

Get back — If you have a close encounter, back away slowly while facing the bear so you always know where the bear is and how its reacting. Wild bears rarely attack people. Slowly backing away diffuses the situation and gives the bear room to flee.

Stay calm — encountering a bear can be startling, but try to remain calm. While moving away, avoid sudden movements and talk to help the bear keep track of your retreat. Don’t turn and run or attempt to climb a tree. Running may prompt the bear to give chase, and climbing a tree could be interpreted as a threat to any cubs that are present since cubs often climb trees when startled. Move toward your camper, house or vehicle if nearby.

Pay attention — Bears will use all of their senses to figure out what you are. If they recognize you as a person, some may stand upright or move closer in their efforts to detect odors in the air currents. Don't consider this a sign of aggression. Once a bear identifies you, it will usually leave. If it begins to slowly approach you, face the bear, wave your arms wildly and shout while continuing to back away. The idea is to intimidate the bear into retreating. Swing a stick, your backpack or whatever is handy if the bear gets close.

If suddenly surprised, some bears may feel threatened and give warning signs that they are uncomfortable. They may clack their jaws together or sway their head; those are signs for you to leave. Some bears have been known to charge to within a few feet when threatened. If this occurs, wave your arms wildly and shout at the bear.

Fight back — Black bear attacks are extremely rare. If a black bear attacks, fight back. Bears have been driven away when people have fought back with rocks, sticks, binoculars and even their bare hands.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is responsible for managing, conserving and protecting all wildlife, and is committed to doing everything possible to keep bear conflicts to a minimum. Regulating harvest to stabilize or reduce bear numbers in problem areas and prohibiting the feeding of bears are measures taken to help alleviate conflicts with bears. If you are having a problem with a bear and have no success using these suggestions, or have been threatened by a bear, please contact the appropriate Game Commission region office.

Address/Location
Upper Macungie Township Police Department
37 Grim Road
Breinigsville, PA 18031

Contact
Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 484-661-5911

Lt. Peter Nickischer
Criminal Investigations and Community Services Div. Commander
pnickischer@uppermac-pd.org
484-661-5911

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