WILLOUGHBY, Ohio — Reports of a roaming black bear flooded the Willoughby Police Department Monday morning.
Calls first started coming in at around 2:30 a.m., with residents reporting that the bear was inside an auto body business on Biltmore Road. Next, the animal was seen crossing River Street, heading toward Daniel Park.
In another sighting, the bear was munching on a bird feeder — which is typical behavior for its kind, police said.
By 5:45 a.m. Monday, the bear was on the move. A Wickliffe police officer snapped a picture of it running through the grass of the Lubrizol Corporation between Lakeland and Loyd roads. The officer said the whole property is fenced in, but the bear managed to crawl over the fence.
Hours later, just before 2 p.m., Mentor police advised people on their Facebook page after the bear was spotted near State Route 306 and Interstate 90. “The best advice is to not approach it and leave it alone. It will eventually return to its natural habitat,” the department said on its page.
As of 4:45 p.m. Monday, the bear was spotted near Lakeland.
The latest sightings of the bear comes after multiple sightings in Kirtland over the weekend, including one incident where a woman’s dog came face to face with the animal.
Despite all its recent appearances, wildlife officials say people shouldn’t be afraid of the bear. Black bears are generally fearful of people and will avoid contact. However, do not try to approach them as they can become aggressive when cornered or if they have cubs.
The average weight of an adult black bear is approximately 300 pounds, and they can stand six feet tall upright.
ODNR spokesperson Jamey Emmert offered the following tips/details about bear spottings:
— These are young males looking for “territory” to hang out, NOT looking for people, etc.
— Black bears are an endangered species in Ohio
— Don’t tend to stick around because they don’t like the climate/conditions in Ohio
— More sightings in Ohio from May-August or September because they come from neighboring states where there are more
— They’re moving through Ohio, not residing here
— They mostly stick to fruit and vegetation for their diet
— PLEASE remove bird feeders, grills, cover garbage because they’ll go after that stuff
— They’re like ‘overgrown raccoons’
— Typically only attack if they feel threatened, NOT aggressive by nature
— If they’re in a ‘fight or flight’ situation, they’ll almost always choose ‘flight’
— If you encounter one, back away slowly, make yourself look bigger – open your jacket, stand tall, etc. DON’T RUN
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife has been made aware of the recent sightings. For further information on black bears in Ohio, click HERE.