WEBER CITY — Late last week, sightings of a black bear in Weber City were reported. Photos of the bear (or bears) were shared on social media.
On Thursday, a bear was photographed walking alongside U.S. 23 across from Red Roof Discount Cigarette Center. Later that same day, another bear sighting was reported near Click Street, also in Weber City.
As a result, the Weber City Police Department and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) have partnered to provide the public with information and solutions for preventing any negative interactions with bears.
Weber City Police Chief Michael Delano said this is the time of year bears are out looking for extra food sources to build up their calories for the winter months.
Delano also said while local residents often do not know bears are living close by, some bears may wander into residential areas because they smell food.
“Sometimes trash and cat and dog food will draw them in,” he said.
Bears can also be attracted to bird feeders, outdoor grills, livestock food, compost, fruit trees and beehives.
With a healthy black bear population, bear sightings are common throughout much of Virginia, including Scott County.
Delano said if you do see a bear, don't panic.
“Don't go near it. Avoid it if you can and just stay away from it. In most cases, the bear will just move on quickly. Remember these are wild animals and should be treated as such. Respect them. Black bears are notorious for being out in the evenings, nights and early mornings. These are not domesticated animals, and we don't want them to become that,” he said.
Below are some tips from the VDGIF on how to stay safe around bears and keep them away from your home:
— If a bear is up a tree on or near your property, give it space.
— Do not approach the bear, and bring your pets inside to provide the bear a clear path to leave your property.
— Never run from a bear.
— Remove any food sources that might attract bears.
— Do not store household trash or anything that smells like food in vehicles, on porches or decks.
— Keep your full or empty trash containers secured in a garage, shed or basement.
— Take your garbage to the dump frequently, or if you have a trash-collection service, put your trash out the morning of the pickup, not the night before.
— It is best not to put out birdfeeders between April 1 and Nov. 1. However, if you do put out feeders and a bear accesses the seed, you should take down your birdfeeder for three to four weeks after the bear visits.
— Consider installing electric fencing around dumpsters, gardens, fruit trees, beehives or other potential food sources. Sometimes, the bear may return searching for food. But after a few failed attempts to find it, it will leave your property.
Visit www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear to view videos, do-it-yourself project instructions, print a brochure, read more about bears in Virginia or view other useful links to bear information.