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Bear sightings reported near I-81

June 16, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

About a dozen sightings of black bears have been reported recently along Interstate 81, according to officials with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

According to Harry Spiker, black bear project leader for the DNR, a bear was spotted as recently as Monday at Ryan's Family Steak House off U.S. 40 on Hagerstown's west side.

"We're just into the peak of the breeding season, so bears are roaming far and wide," Spiker said Wednesday. "Male bears will spend more of their time looking for females than they will asleep."

Members of the Hagerstown Police Department, Maryland State Police and Washington County 911 Center all reported sightings last week.

Both Spiker and Karina Blizzard, associate director of information and education for the Wildlife and Heritage Service, said the bears ordinarily pose no risk to humans.

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Female black bears in the area range in weight from 150 to 300 pounds, and males can weigh more than 400 pounds, Spiker said.

According to Spiker, last year's cubs are looking for new homes. Breeding season lasts through July, he said.

Spiker said people should regard the bears in the same way they might a stray dog. He suggested people who live in areas where the bears have been spotted not put out their garbage cans at night.

"They have reasons for what they do, and it usually involves their stomach, or in this case, breeding season," Spiker said.

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