NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio - Valerie Myers was already aware there were reports of black bear sightings in Tuscarawas County when she went out to lunch with her husband Wednesday.
As they drove the back roads to their destination she says she saw something out of the corner of her eye.
"We actually spotted the bear on the left hand side of the road and he pulled over and I took out my phone," said Myers.
She captured a video of the bear, which some estimate to be 300 pounds or more, running through a field then playing in the Tuscarawas River.
"It kind of looked up at me at first and then it was bored and turned around," said Myers.
A little earlier Patty Stillion was out with her grandson, Spencer, when she says she thought at first she saw a cat, then realized it was much too big to be a cat.
"It was just a normal day and all of a sudden I hear 'grandma get out of the car.'"
"It was just running, just kind of running and going house to house and just going along, just leaping along and just kind of looking at stuff," said Patty.
The Tuscarawas County Sheriff's Office responded to calls about the bear by dispatching deputies to keep an eye on the animal and monitor its travels from a distance.
Also along the river the bear stopped to dine on a bird feeder at the home of Jim Keen, with his neighbor's children just a short distance away on the back patio.
"I thought it was my friend, my neighbor, pulling a prank on us because it was just standing there really still and not moving or anything," said Autumn Williams.
"We never see bears around here wildly; we only see them in the zoos. So it was really interesting to see one eating out of a bird feeder and stealing things," she added.
Black bear sightings are becoming more commonplace across Northeast Ohio even though their numbers in the state remain relatively small.
Experts say the animals are not aggressive and pose no threat to people if they are left alone and watched from a distance.