Bear damages vehicle while looking for food

Published 8:57 pm Friday, February 15, 2013

(Submitted Photo) Bear: These scratches on the hood of a vehicle in the Hollywood neighborhood were caused by a bear, city officials say. They urged local residents to leave bear alone if they spot them.

A black bear got too close for comfort for Suffolk residents in the Hollywood neighborhood this week, when one of those residents awoke Thursday to find damage to a vehicle caused by a bear foraging for food.

It happened in the 300 block of Goodman Street. The bear caused damage to the vehicle’s hood and grill trying to get to food left in the vehicle overnight, according to a news release from the city.

Police and animal control officers visited the neighborhood Friday to drop off safety information for residents. Here are some of the tips they provided:

  • Store garbage indoors, in a shed, in a garage or in a bear-proof container, and put it out the morning of its scheduled pick-up rather than the night before.
  • Feed pets indoors or remove the food bowl after feeding a pet outdoors. Do not leave food out overnight.
  • Remove the bird feeder, because bears are attracted to them.
  • Clean the outdoor grill often.
  • Do not put meat scraps or other strong-smelling food in the compost pile.
  • Do not leave food in your vehicle
  • Pick up and remove ripe fruit from fruit trees and the surrounding ground.

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According to the city’s news release, bears are highly intelligent animals and can learn to associate human dwellings with food. However, they have a natural distrust of humans, are shy and avoid people.

If addressed quickly, problems can often be resolved immediately, according to the press release. After a few failed attempts to find food, bears will usually leave the area, but they could return for up to two weeks looking for free food. Citizens are reminded it is illegal to deliberately feed bears on both public and private land.

If a bear is on or near your property, the best thing to do is leave it alone, according to the press release. Keep people and pets away from the bear, and do not approach it, crowd around it or chase it.

If you still have a bear problem after taking prevention steps, call the Suffolk Police Department’s non-emergency dispatch number at 923-2350, extension 0.