Black bears making themselves comfortable in Beckley backyards, residents concerned

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) – Home security footage from a resident living on Maxwell Hill Road in Beckley, who wished to remain anonymous, showed a black bear climbing on to her back porch.

“We first started noticing the bears about three weeks ago,” she said. “The first time we saw it we saw what we call the mama bear, and she must’ve been 250 – 300 pounds.”

The mama bear was not only trying to lounge on the porch…

“One evening it got up on my back deck and got to my kitchen window, and tried to get into my kitchen window, but we finally got it scared away,” she added.

She is not the only one on her block hosting the unwanted visitors. Several of her neighbors, like Ward 1 representative Tom Sopher, took to a Maxwell Hill Road community page, posting pictures and talking about almost every day sightings on their properties.

“Maxwell Hill is definitely not that big, but they manage to roam and like food, if you got your bird feeder out they’ll eat it or eat out of the trash cans,” Sopher said.

They are now scared to enjoy the rest of summer in their yards, or let their children and pets outside. They are also concerned about the bears roaming near Maxwell Hill Elementary School, as their children will soon be walking to class in a few weeks.

After contacting DNR police, officers managed to catch one bear in the area on Saturday, but because of an above average number of bear nuisance calls in several local counties, they cannot trap all of them. Todd Dowdy, a DNR Wildlife Resource office, said black bears are more social than they are dangerous.

“It’s really not practical for us to trap and relocate hundreds of bears every year who are getting into bird feeders, or yards, or garbage, or pet food,” Dowdy said. “So, a lot of the times we resolve bear issues just by advising the public on how to live with bears and resolve bear issues themselves.”

DNR wildlife officers said there is actually a wait list for bear traps right now due to the high demand in the state.

To keep these guests from crashing in your yard, be sure to keep your trash cans locked, keep your barbecues clean of food, and rethink those bird feeders.

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