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Springfield officials discuss black bear sighting

8/15/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

SPRINGFIELD — A juvenile male black bear spotted in the area recently was actually roaming through Summit County.

According to Laurie Graber, a wildlife research technician from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife, who was asked to speak at the Aug. 8 Springfield Board of Trustees meeting, the bear was on a long journey.

Graber said the bear was first spotted in Kent June 9, and then in Stow June 10, the Cuyahoga Valley June 11, Bath June 12, just east of Interstate 71 in Medina County June 13, Doylestown June 14, New Franklin June 15 and Springfield June 17. The last reported sighting was at Mogadore Reservoir June 18.

“This was the first sighting of a black bear in Springfield in a long time,” Graber said.

Graber said most bear sightings take place May through mid-July, when young black bear males are kicked out of the nest and are looking to establish their own territory. That time period is also mating season.

According to ODNR officials, the majority of black bear sightings in the state occur in Northeast Ohio, and most of these bears are coming from Pennsylvania, where the population has been estimated at 16,000. In Ohio, the population is estimated to be as high as 800.

Wildlife officials established a formal bear reporting system in 1994 to track these bears, according to Graber. Bear sightings can be reported to the Portage Lakes ODNR office at 330-644-2293.

Graber cautioned that while black bears are not aggressive and there are no reports of attacks on humans in Ohio, people should treat them as wild animals and leave them alone. She added the bears are listed as a state endangered species and are protected, and officials are not likely to capture and relocate a bear unless there is conflict with people or the bear becomes a nuisance. Officials may come out to haze the bear to get it to move on more quickly if needed.

“Give them their space and don’t feed them,” Graber suggested. “The bear will usually move on.”

Graber suggested bird feeders should be taken down, pet food should not be left outside and trash should be secured during the bear’s most active season, from May to August.

Police Chief John Smith stated his officers “will not shoot a bear unless we absolutely have to.”

Graber also talked briefly about the increasing number of coyotes in the area.

“They have become more of an issue because they are not hunted or trapped,” she said. “They are most prevalent in January through March and have their pups in June.”

She suggested dogs should be kept on a leash if there is a coyote nearby, and they do go after outdoor cats.

In other business at the meeting, trustees approved the following:

  • a proposal from Frank Gates Avizent Group Retrospective Rating Program, with an estimated 35 percent in savings off 2014 Bureau of Workers’ Compensation fees;
  • a transfer of $25,000 from the General Fund to the Senior Center Fund in the salaries fund line for budget stabilization;
  • an increase in Police Department appropriations of $125,000 for salaries;
  • an inter-fund transfer and appropriation in the General Fund Other Category from the Contingencies line to the Road Capital Equipment line in the amount of $45,365;
  • to rescind a past motion that requested the Summit County engineer conduct a speed study on Pickle Road, which likely would have resulted in an increase to 45 mph from 35 mph in that area;
  • to repair 12 LifePak heart monitors and the purchase of three pairs of patient cables at a cost not to exceed $3,910;
  • to increase the cost from $1,973 to $2,133 for a tactical vest due to an essential piece that was omitted;
  • to accept a proposal from Valley Ford for a 1-ton truck and equipment package that includes a steel dump body, central hydraulic system, 9-foot snow plow, under tailgate salt spreader, lighting and miscellaneous, totaling $62,415;
  • $3,999 for a trailer from Majestic Trailer & Hitch to be used to transport mowing equipment;
  • to certify 20 abatements involving grass, trash and debris; and
  • to rescind a work order for the demolition of 1335 Beach Drive Extension and to award the contract to PS Construction in an amount not to exceed $3,900.

Also during the meeting:

√ officials announced there will be an American Red Cross Blood Drive Aug. 19 from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Fire Department, 2459 Canfield Road;

√ the last Friday night concert of the summer at the Vincent J. Mealy Bicentennial Gazebo will take place today, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. for the rescheduled appearance of Remembering Elvis Live; and

√ Springfield Township Women’s Club will celebrate 45 years of community service Aug. 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Gazebo. Hotdogs, popcorn, cotton candy and ice cream will be available for 45 cents each. In addition, there will be free games, face painting, storytelling and zumba, and the Springfield High School Band and Dance Out Loud will entertain.

The next trustees’ meeting will take place Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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