News & Politics

Bear Sightings Reported in Suburban Washington

What to do if you come across one.

Image via Shutterstock.

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

“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.

Senior Writer

Luke Mullins is a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine focusing on the people and institutions that control the city’s levers of power. He has written about the Koch Brothers’ attempt to take over The Cato Institute, David Gregory’s ouster as moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press, the collapse of Washington’s Metro system, and the conflict that split apart the founders of Politico.