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Bear sighting near Norway keeps people in suspense

Jun. 17, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Massive paw prints left this past week on a local dumpster has folks thinking twice about what's roaming the neighborhood.

Workers at Dixon Electrical Systems & Contracting Inc., reported trash strewn out of their dumpster and evidence of the perpetrator, prints from possibly two bears.

That dumpster incident and bear paw sighting is added to a couple eyewitness viewings of at least one black bear roaming the neighborhoods off Norway Road and near the Garden Farms Subdivision.

Nathan Bowen, who works at Dixon at 3352 Norwood Road, said employees came to work this past week to find bear paw prints on their big blue dumpster.

"There was a bunch of trash strewn out of the dumpster, and basically the trash was strewn up toward Garden Farms Subdivision," Bowen said. "I went out a couple days later, and you can still see the prints on it where she came out of the dumpster. It looks to me like you could also see smaller prints also on the outside, so I would assume that she had a cub with her."

Glenna Hensley lives one street over from a sighting on Locust Street, and said the entire area is on high alert. Two police officers were parked in front of her house, asking if she had seen the bear.

"I had my grandkids, and they were playing in the fenced-in front yard, and I ran to get some scissors to cut come flowers and left them outside. When I came back out, the police were parked in front of my house," Hensley said. "I was a little fearful then. I thought, 'Oh, my word.' Now for three days, the youngest, who is 2, has been asking 'Where's the bear? And we don't even want to let them play outside until they find it."

Although uncommon to Huntington, bear sightings are not rare in West Virginia.

In fact, black bears (the West Virginia state animal) have been spotted in all 55 counties.

"We have been receiving numerous calls concerning bear sightings from areas that have not had bears in the recent past. Bears have been reported in all 55 counties, and we have received many reports of sows with cubs in the northern and western portion of the state," said Christopher Ryan, Black Bear Project Leader for the Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section, in a release earlier this year.

Residents should remove all outside pet food at night, and bird feeders should be taken down, cleaned and stored until late fall to further discourage feeding around human habitation."

Bears often become habituated to handouts and lose their fear of humans. When bears lose this fear, they resort to raiding garbage, outdoor freezers and other food sources associated with people. Unfortunately, if these activities are repeated, Division of Natural Resources personnel are charged with humanely destroying the offender for safety reasons.

Because June and July are peak months for black bear movement, similar sightings have occurred around the region.

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