The animal has been active in the county for about two months now, traveling in the Vienna, Oakton, McLean, Reston and Fairfax areas, according to Katherine Edwards, the Fairfax County Police Department’s wildlife management specialist.
“While searching for food, this young bear has traveled into residential areas around homes, including yards, porches, and decks,” Edwards told FFXnow. “Most of the reports indicate that the bear is taking advantage of human-sourced food items, primarily bird feeders, unsecured trash, and beehives.”
The FCPD estimates that three to four bears have been active in the county since this spring, though no formal count has been conducted. Edwards says that number is in line with what’s reported to her and the county’s Animal Protection Police each year.
While sightings “are infrequent” in the more urbanized parts of Tysons, it’s “not uncommon” for one-year-old bears known as yearlings to move through the Potomac River corridor when setting out on their own for the first time, Edwards said.
Bears who find refuge in the parks and green spaces around nearby McLean and Vienna might drift into Tysons as they search for food.
This particular bear was filmed walking on the Boyd Pointe Way Sunday night in a video shared by FOX5 reporter Angie Goff. A Facebook commenter on FFXnow’s story about the sighting said a couple of his neighbors have caught the animal on camera following the Vesper Trail from Tysons Forest.
In September, the bear was seen rummaging through a trash can near McLean Hamlet Park, walking on Park Street in Vienna, and crossing Soapstone Drive toward Frederick Crabtree Park in Reston, as previously reported.
Soapstone Drive resident Sarah Boczar told FFXnow that her mom saw the bear in their neighborhood “a couple of weeks ago” while walking the family dog. Photos of the animal have been circulating in the community.
Edwards says bears will typically travel quickly through an area without any conflicts if they don’t find food, but this bear has lingered due to the availability of easily accessible food sources.
“We encourage neighbors to take preventative actions to remove food attractants and reduce the chance of conflict with a bear in their community,” she said. “We are asking neighbors to temporarily remove any outdoor food sources to help keep this young bear wild and encourage it to safely move on.”
Police advise residents to take the following steps to avoid attracting bears:
- Secure Garbage: Keep in a locked shed or inside until the morning of collection or use a bear resistant container.
- Take down birdfeeders.
- Feed pets indoors or only what they will eat in a single feeding if you must feed them outside. Remove all uneaten food and pet bowls. Do not leave food out overnight. Store pet food where bears can’t see or smell it.
- Clean up porches, patios, and decks. Remove any potential food sources and remember a screened in porch is not a “secure” storage area from a bear’s point of view.
- Clean grills after each use. Do not dump drippings in your yard. Run the grill an extra 5 minutes to burn off grease, fat, and food particles.
- Never leave food, trash, or pet/livestock feed inside your vehicle.
- Never purposely leave out food or try to feed a bear.
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