A black bear was struck and killed on Interstate 83 in Baltimore County on Thursday morning, Maryland State Police said, at least the ninth bear struck this month.
The bear was struck on I-83 southbound just before Shawan Road, police said. It had been moved to the median as of 7 a.m., and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources was on the way to the scene.
The bear weighed about 100 pounds, police said.
This is at least the second bear that was hit by a vehicle in the Baltimore area this week. A black bear was struck and killed on I-95 in Harford County on Tuesday.
Nine bears have been struck by vehicles in the state since June 1, including a bear struck on I-83 northbound by the exit for Mt. Carmel Road on June 7, according to Candy Thomson, a spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Police.
About 55 bears are struck by vehicles in Maryland each year, mostly in the western part of the state, Thomson said.
“In the summer, bears are particularly active,” she said. “They’re fattening up, they’re putting on weight. Young bears are striking out on their own to look for territory.”
Thomson said that black bears’ return to Maryland following a near-extinction is a “wildlife success story.”
Drivers should take the same precautions as they would with deer, she said, especially in the early and late hours, when black bears can be difficult to see.
The Department of Natural Resources receives about four calls a week regarding bear sightings, Thomson said. Usually, the department tells people to take in their garbage cans and pull down their bird feeders and the bear will move on.
“Bears are naturally shy and avoid humans,” Thomson said. “Each year, a handful of bears seem to travel through suburban areas in Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard, and Montgomery counties in search of new territory.”
The bears are more frequently passing through toward “more suitable habitat” in Western Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, Thomson said.
She added that unlike deer, black bears rarely travel in groups, saying they are unpredictable creatures who usually keep to themselves.
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“Clearly bears are on the move,” Thomson said. “I suspect we’ll have bear sightings closer into the D.C. suburbs as well, because that’s the pattern.”