On Dec. 27, police and wildlife authorities in Virginia closed a road in a quiet residential neighborhood after a mother bear and three cubs were spotted napping in a tree.
Chesapeake Animal Services asked residents near the tree in Chesapeake, Va. — on Bruin Drive no less! — to stay inside and the general public to stay away from the area. Officials had hoped that giving the bears “space, quiet, and time” would allow them to vacate the area.
“Black bears can be unpredictable, especially when sows (mothers) have cubs,” animal services officials said on Facebook. “This is an extremely stressful situation for the bears, so it’s important to stay away from the area. That includes driving past the site.”
Chesapeake Police spokesman Leo Kosinski said dispatchers were first alerted to a possible bear sighting around 2 a.m. Monday, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Later that morning, officers saw the bears napping in the tree and closed off the area, he said.
Conservation officers with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources were responding to assess the situation.
Bears are very good climbers, and these four will likely climb down and walk away when they’re ready, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Chief of Wildlife Gray Anderson said.
“From what I’ve been told, a momma bear and three very healthy young cubs have made their way up a tree in a residential neighborhood,” Anderson said. “Our expectation is, if we leave them alone, they’ll climb down and go back to their natural habitat.”
As humans continue to encroach on the natural habitat of bears, this isn’t the only incident of close encounters between bears and humans that occurred in 2021
In June, Police in Thornton, NH, were shocked when surveillance video revealed that it was a bear who was responsible for a series of car break-ins in the residential neighborhood.
Also, during the summer, a California teen, Hailey Morinico, made headlines when she warded off a black bear that was attempting to jump her fence and attack her dogs.
While none of these encounters between humans and bears ended in any harm to the bear or the people involved, other cases were not so lucky. Wildlife experts nationwide say that encounters between bears and humans are on the rise as homes continue to encroach on the bear’s habitats. Some of these encounters end tragically – for the animals.
In May of 2021, a bear was shot and killed by authorities in the backyard of an Oregon homeowner. “We’re not surprised that bears are on the move. We’ve known that for a long time,” said Micah Holmes of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The only surprising thing was it was in someone’s backyard.”