According to Beacon Chief of Police Douglas Solomon, an adolescent black bear cub has come out of the woods into our people-populated area. Chief Solomon confirms that the last report of anyone seeing the bear and reporting it to the police was at 8:30am Friday on Sargent Avenue near Wodenethe Drive, on the "town" side of Fishkill Creek (away from the mountain), near the Beacon Board of Education.
Local parent Erin Giunta, who lives near Sargent Elementary, was getting her young daughter ready for school and just happened to look out the front door when she saw the bear crossing the school playground this morning at 8:20am. Her eye-witness account: "The bear ran across the large field near Sargent Ave. and Knevels, then crossed the gravel path, then ran on the grass between the playground and the stone wall." Giunta called Sargent Elementary School to report it, and staff acknowledged they were aware of the bear.
Right at 8:30am, a robo-call was delivered from Interim Superintendent of Beacon Schools Ann Marie Quartironi, alerting parents of "walkers" (aka kids who walk to school) that buses are out and about to pick walkers up, to bring them to school.
Chief Solomon explains it's not uncommon to see bear cubs in the springtime in this area. "Every two years, the mother bears kick their cubs out. The cubs get confused and disoriented and end up in populated areas. At some point, it will go back into the woods," he says. To aid in that effort, the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) will come down to assist police with guiding the bear back into the woods. Chief Solomon says that efforts the police department may employ are using rubber bullets or bean bags to hit the bear and encourage it to go back into the woods. Black bears are known to be docile, and are looking primarily for trash to eat.
Both Chief Solomon and local survival and tracking expert Shane Hobel, founder of Mountain Scout Survival School, say that black bears are not aggressive, but if anyone should see it, one should not engage it. Instead, says Hobel, quietly and slowly back back away without showing aggression. Hobel says that black bears are generally scared of clanging pots and pans and bells and whistles, which is why hikers often wear the latter when they are taking on mountain trails. Black bears can be skittish, and if you encounter one in your yard, Hobel says, take the approach of a docile dog on the retreat:
- Back away slowly.
- Don't show your teeth - it's a primal sign of aggression.
- Don't raise your arms.
Bear sightings are also a time to raise awareness to contain trash and to keep it from blowing around. Press it down into your garbage can so as to reduce overflowage. Perhaps weekly recycling pickup will happen in Beacon, which would contribute to contained garbage cans. If you have a food compost pile in your yard, look into ways to seal it. Zero to Go are the food compost experts, and they include plastic bins that seal tightly in their food compost pickup program.
If you do have a bear sighting, make sure you're safe, then call the police to report where you saw it. This will help them guide the bear back into the woods. The information hotline to the Beacon police is 845-831-4111.