Lancaster Police warning residents to stay clear of bears

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Lancaster Police are getting a surge in calls about a black bear roaming around the town. Police have received enough photos from the public to urge families to keep children inside their homes at night.

State wildlife officials say black bears are multiplying, and young male bears are looking to establish territory of their own. They believe the bears are being drawn from the woods to the fringes of the suburbs for the food sources.

Lancaster Police say these bear photos were taken near Fox Valley Country Club
Lancaster Police say these bear photos were taken near Fox Valley Country Club

“They are going to find that in the form of birdseed, pet food, garbage, returnable containers, barbeque grills, all that stuff,” said Timothy Spierto, a senior wildlife biologist for the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

A photo Lancaster Police shared of a young black bear in a tree was taken along Stutzman Road, in the Bowmansville section of Lancaster, Tuesday night.

Thursday night, Lancaster Police posted photos of the bear spotted near Fox Valley Country Club.

“All the police came and they said there was a bear in my yard, and they had flashlights and guns, and they said they could not shoot him,” said Stutzman Road resident Beverly Kaufman.

She says before the bear got into her backyard, it actually came face-to-face with her neighbor, an elderly widow who is visually impaired, on her back porch.

Kaufman said because of her neighbor’s impairment she did not immediately recognize her visitor was a bear, “and when she went to let her dog out, the bear was on the steps of her porch. I think apparently she had been feeding the ducks and he came for the bread.”

After the back porch confrontation, Kaufman explained the bear cut through her neighbor’s, broke through an electric fence separating the yards, then he scooted across Kaufman’s backyard, and police cornered the bear in one of her tall trees.

Spierto insists black bears are timid and try to avoid human contact, but warns if you see one, you should still and keep your distance.

“They are a wild animal; they are not meant to be approached. They are powerful and they are very fast. Enjoy the fact that we get to have bears in Western New York, here in the wild.”

Wildlife officials’ advice to people who come across black bears: the best way to keep one of these animals at bay is to make a lot of noise.

Unless the bear becomes agitated or aggressive, police prefer to shoo them away, rather than shoot them, or bring them down with tranquilizer darts.

In neighborhoods where bears are spotted, Lancaster officials are urging residents to keep children and pets inside, and call Lancaster Police at 683-2800.

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