Black bears making themselves at home in North Salem

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A black bear works a garbage can on a residential property in Purdys. Image courtesy of Tayka Velasquez

If you thought horses were the only large mammals taking up residence in North Salem, think again. Black bears have been spotted in the area recently, surprising residents, lighting up residential Ring cams, and tipping over garbage cans in their endless search for food.

North Salem Town Supervisor Warren Lucas told residents via a recent Facebook post, “over the last week we have had multiple bear sightings in Town. I have been told it is a larger bear which has not caused any issues. The bear(s) have posed no threat to anyone and are looking for food. Please do not leave garbage out or bird food. If they find it at your home they will return again and again.”

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In response to Lucas’ post, several residents chimed in with their own bear sightings. Bears have recently been spotted in North Salem on First Street (Purdys), Nash Road, Fields Lane, Titicus Road and in surrounding communities of Brewster, Cross River and South Salem.

Izzy Mosquera, a North Salem High School student who lives in Purdys, said, “this isn’t the first time that a bear has shown up in our yard. This time he keeps on coming back. My father keeps a big can full of bird food in our backyard to fill the bird feeders, and that’s what the bear wanted. But he wasn’t able to open it so after he went back into the bushes he left it there.”

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There are an estimated 6,000-8,000 black bears in New York State, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Half of the state’s bear population resides in the Adirondack region; the Hudson Valley is considered a secondary range for them. They are the second largest mammal in the state (moose is the largest), and they are hungry, curious, and intelligent, qualities which can lead to human-animal conflict when the right precautions aren’t taken. The simplest and most effective ways to make your property unattractive to bears include: removing bird feeders after April 1; secure garbage in tightly lidded containers and feed pets indoors.

What to do if you see a black bear

DEC experts advise to never approach, surround or attempt to touch a bear and to always leave a clear escape route for a bear. If you feel threatened by a bear, back away slowly, but do not run. If the bear won’t leave, make loud noises—yell, clap, blow car horns or air horns, or drum on nearby objects.

Black bear facts (from the NY DEC)

  • Their sense of smell is 50x greater than that of a human
  • They can hibernate for up to seven months
  • They’re excellent climbers
  • They’re fast - they can run at speeds of up to 25 mph or more
  • They’re large - adult males average ~ 300 pounds; females average ~ 170 pounds
  • They’ll eat anything - bears are omnivorous. They’ll eat grasses, berries, fruit, nuts, seeds, insects, carrion as well as human sources of food, such as trash, bird seed and pet food when available
  • They’re intelligent - If an activity results in food, they will repeat that activity. If an encounter with a human doesn't result in a reward (food), they will not have any reason to have contact with humans.


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