Bear spotted in Manchester, likely looking to exploit easy food sources in fall

Sightings of a black bear were reported in Manchester over the weekend.

Police Chief John Hess said in an email Monday that the last sighting reported of the bear was in the wooded area in the rear of the 2900 block of Park Avenue and Brougham Court on Saturday night.


“We believe he is out looking for food, more than likely wild berries in the area,” Hess said via email. “Since Saturday night, we have not received any additional sightings in the town, although there is plenty of space for him to travel.”

No property damage due to the bear has been reported.

Harry Spiker, bear biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service, said that black bears are likely looking to exploit easy food sources before moving on at this time of the year.

“They’re just starting to get hungry to pack on pounds for winter,” he said.

Trash cans and bird feeders are the most common food sources that bears are attracted to, he said, so residents can take their bird feeders inside and make sure trash is secured to prevent bears from becoming a nuisance.

Pet encounters with bears are very rare, he said, but if you’re taking your pet out at night, turn the light on at first and make some noise.

“Generally the smallest bit of noise will scare them away,” he said.

Spiker is charged with monitoring the state’s black bear populations.

Ten years ago, he said, a bear sighting in Manchester would have been “really unusual,” but because bear populations have been increasing, especially in Frederick, it is still not commonplace, but not surprising.

He said biologists would not consider the area to be a bear habitat until sows with cubs were spotted there because they have the smallest home range.

Currently, bears reside mostly in the western part of the state including Garrett, Allegany, Washington, and Frederick counties, according to the DNR website on black bears.

It characterizes them as “opportunistic feeders," that eat foods including berries, fruits, nuts, insects and carrion, grasses, reptiles and amphibians, but when available will chow down on bird seed, agricultural crops and garbage.

"Acorns remain the single most important natural food for bears in Maryland,” according to the site.

It is illegal to put out food or bait to attract bears.


“If you encounter a bear that is not aware of your presence, back away and leave the area. Give the bear plenty of room," according to the DNR.

It is illegal to kill a bear unless it is an immediate threat to life or livestock.

A limited number of black bear hunting permits are issued during the fall and are required to hunt black bears, according to the Maryland Guide to Hunting & Trapping. They are only valid in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties.

"Under no circumstances should you kill a bear just because it is near your house," according to the DNR.