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Bear sightings on the rise

A black bear led Bethlehem police, animal control officers and EnCon officers on a pursuit through Delmar Wednesday, June 23.

Though animal control and EnCon officers tried to capture the animal, they lost track of it off of Delaware Avenue, near the Normanskill.

A lot of time, these bears run into the thick bush, making them impossible to follow, said Bethlehem Police Lt. Thomas Heffernan.

Police think the same bear was sighted the following day off of Seneca Court in North Bethlehem.

An increase in bear sightings is an annual ritual, said Heffernan.

"This really is a yearly occurrence around this time," he said. "It's really not that unusual."

Residents are being advised to take extra precautions to avoid leaving food or garbage out where a bear might be able to access it, and to only put garbage out on the morning of pickup. Additionally, bird feeders should only be used from Dec. 1 to March 1, as they attract bears.

If bears know there is a supply of food nearby, they're more likely to stay in the area and have contact with humans. Normally, though, they try to avoid people, but if you see a bear the best thing to do is back away slowly"don't run"and leave the bear with a clear escape route. If it keeps coming back or refuses to leave, make loud, sharp noises like yelling, clapping, blowing a car's horn or banging on objects.

Also, contact Bethlehem police at 439-9973 in the event of a bear sighting.

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