Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Black bear seen near Monsey: police to advise caution
MONTEBELLO — The serene feeling Wendy Scharf typically gets from hiking the trail behind her Golden Road home was shattered Monday when she and her dogs crossed paths with a bear.
"I was sitting very quietly and ... my golden retriever gave me a tug. I pulled him back and as I'm sitting by the brook, I look up and see this humongous black bear," she said. "I was in awe."
Scharf, a Rockland County resident for nearly 30 years and a Montebello homeowner since 1993, had never had such a close encounter. Her experience, however, is not altogether uncommon.
Each spring, police receive dozens of reported bear sightings across Rockland. In recent days, several sightings have been reported in the Town of Ramapo and in areas of Orangetown and Haverstraw, authorities said.
Still, coming face to face with an animal that can grow to be over 600 pounds can be daunting and it's important to know how to avoid a potentially dangerous situation.
Pat Coleman, the animal control officer in neighboring Clarkstown, said maintaining calm while encountering a bear is vital.
"The main thing is to try not to panic," Coleman said. "It's easier said than done when you see a bear, but they're usually on the move for a reason."
Coleman suggests slowly backing away when a bear is seen. On reaching a safe place, the sighting should be reported to police.
Ramapo police Sgt. Margaret Sammarone said it's important to take all necessary precautions to avoid attracting black bears.
"If a bear enters your yard repeatedly, look for what attractants are drawing it there and remove them," she said. "Put out garbage on the day of pickup as opposed to the night before, do not leave pet food out and keep barbecues clean and grease-free."
Sammarone also warned that compost piles may attract wild animals, so avoid putting scraps of meat or fish into them.
Other animal foods — like in bird feeders — may also attract bears, Coleman said, adding that if a resident is told to take down a bird feeder in a bear-prone area and fails to do so, a ticket may be issued.
Officials said adding lime or ammonia to garbage piles or compost heaps may also help to ward off the animals.