A black bear was hit and killed along Interstate 95 in Harford County early Tuesday morning, according to the Maryland Natural Resources Police and the Maryland Transportation Authority.
The MdTA was notified around 5:40 a.m., and maintenance crews found the bear’s body along the shoulder of the highway at mile marker 77.4 near the Route 24 interchange, according to Cheryl Sparks, the agency’s director of communications.
“It appeared the bear was struck and killed by a motor vehicle,” Sparks said Tuesday afternoon.
Highway workers notified the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Sparks said. A team from DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service, which manages the state’s bear population, was dispatched to the scene, and the team removed the body, according to Natural Resources Police spokesperson Candy Thomson.
A bear being struck and killed on the road is not an uncommon incident in the spring and summer in Maryland. About two to four bears are sighted daily across the state and an average of 55 bears a year are struck by vehicles, according to Thomson.
“Unfortunately, it happens all the time,” Thomson said. “There are bear sightings everywhere and bear strikes lots of places.”
Bears are moving throughout Central Maryland as they forage for food to fatten themselves for the winter, or they are seeking new territory, according to Thomson.
More than 2,000 adult and “subadult” black bears live in Maryland, primarily in Western Maryland, according to the DNR website. The most recent estimate of the bear population was completed in 2011, according to DNR.
Bears are spotted in neighborhoods and along highways in more developed areas of Central Maryland, including Harford County, on a regular basis in spring and summer, though.
“Young bears can travel 150 miles to find territory to call their own,” Thomson said.
She urged anybody who spots a bear in their yard to “leave it alone” and bring in any items that might draw a bear, such as bird feeders or garbage cans.
“Let it pass through,” Thomson said, noting bears are looking for a quiet spot, which is not a person’s backyard.
She said people should “never feed a bear” or leave out things that could attract them.
“They love bird feeders, they love garbage cans,” Thomson said. “It’s easy pickings.”
People can call the Natural Resources Police 24-hour dispatch line at 410-260-8888 if they encounter a “problem bear,” such as one that gets into residents’ garbage or goes onto their porch or under their carport. Motorists can call the same number if they strike a large animal such as a bear or deer, Thomson said.
About 11,000 deer were struck on Maryland roads as of 2015, according to Thomson.
She recommends drivers not swerve to avoid hitting a deer or bear.
“You stand a better chance of injuring yourself, of losing control of your car,” Thomson said.
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See the “Maryland Black Bear Fact Sheet” on the DNR website for more information on bears in Maryland.