YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — Wildlife officials were hopeful that a young black bear that took a Mother's Day stroll near downtown Youngstown was back in the woods Monday after officers tried to drive it out of town.
The bear was spotted Sunday morning near a hospital just north of downtown, according to The Vindicator newspaper.
Officers followed the Ohio Department of Natural Resources procedure of harassing the bear to coax it out of a populated area, Laurie Graber, a wildlife research technician for the agency, said in an interview Monday.
The officers were uncertain of the bear's gender but assumed it was a young male that had been rejected by its mother. Officers estimated the bear's age at 18 months and its weight at 115 to 145 pounds.
The bear was seen both in a park and from hospital buildings. Wildlife officers reported last seeing the bear Sunday night in a tree near railroad tracks, Graber said. She did not know how far from downtown that sighting occurred and said there had been no sightings Monday morning.
While they're not typical, black bear sightings have become more common near urban areas. Those bears are often just moving through the area. Graber said officers had to relocate a lingering bear from Boardman Township, a Youngstown suburb, in 2010.
"We're approaching the mating season now," Graber said. "Late May through mid-July is peak time for when we get bear reports in Ohio."
Unless the bear is a problem, the state's preferred policy is to harass bears to make them move on. Black bears are not a danger unless they are cornered, she said.
"I recommend that, if people see it, to give it space and let it move on its way," Graber said. "The last thing you want to do is corner it. Any animal you corner is going to feel threatened."