Bear Sightings Reported in Suburban Washington

What to do if you come across one.

By: Luke Mullins

Watch out! Bear sightings have been reported in suburban Washington.

Montgomery County police said Thursday that it received calls at 7:15 AM Wednesday about a black bear in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Additional calls came in at 7:54 AM Thursday regarding another bear sighting, also in Gaithersburg.

Although black bears are more commonly spotted in more rural parts of the region—such as Washington and Frederick counties—it’s not unheard of for bears to wander closer to the District this time of year, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

“In early summer each year, young bears disperse, or move out, to find a territory of their own,” said Harry Spiker, of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, in a press release. “They have been known to travel 100 miles or more while searching for suitable place.”

State officials have confirmed black bear sightings in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in years past. Black bears can appear at any time of day, but they usually aren’t aggressive.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources issued the following guidelines to follow in the event of a bear sighting:

• If faced with a bear, give it space and ensure it has an escape route; do not approach or allow it to be surrounded or cornered—much like you would a stray dog.

• Do not feed it, and remove any food sources. Trash, bird feeders, and grills often lure bears into residential areas. If a bear is reported in your region, be sure to store these items in a secure place like a garage or a shed.

• Scare bears away by making noise—shouting, banging pots and pans, using air horns or whistles, etc.