Black bear visit unusual in Kent

Suzi Starheim

Bear killed by driver likely not the same

In a place like Kent, seeing a large wild animal seems nearly impossible.

“It is very rare to see a bear,” said John Peach, director of public safety and Kent chief of police. “When they are seen, it is primarily in the night, and they are looking for food and so forth in urbanization because we are knocking them out of their habitat.”

In the 10 years he’s had his job, Peach hasn’t heard of a bear sighting in the area.

Jamey Graham, communications specialist for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said the bear was probably just looking for its territory.

“In the summer, young males are out to find their own territory,” Graham said. “Pennsylvania has a population of over 18,000 bears, so young males head west into Ohio so there are less older bears to contend with.”

Graham said Northeast Ohio sees about a half dozen bears each year, and most are young males between 100 and 150 pounds.

Though two calls came into the station about the bear, Peach said the reports weren’t precise, and police never saw the bear.

“We had to check it out because of the veracity of the statements about the bear,” Peach said. “We put it out over the alert notification, but that was the least we could do.”

In mid-August, a 17-year-old boy driving a car hit and killed a black bear in Marlboro, but Peach said it likely wasn’t the same bear.

“As we have learned from the wildlife people, there are a number of black bears of similar size that keep on migrating in this area,” Peach said.

Peach said narrowing down the location of the Kent bear was not easy, as black bears are always migrating.

The initial sighting was near state Route 261 heading toward the stadium south of campus, Peach said.

Graham said, while reports of the Kent bear were unconfirmed, the bear was a young male, about 125 pounds and was also seen in Streetsboro and Hudson soon after it was spotted near campus.

“It’s one of those mysteries that people say there is a bear, call the police and, by the time the police get there, even if it’s five or six minutes, nobody knows where the bear went,” Peach said.

He said the difficulty in pinpointing the bear’s location also had to do with the time of day of the sighting.

“It’s usually at night, and when you are a black bear in the night it’s pretty easy to not be seen,” Peach said.

Graham said while people should be cautious in the case of a bear sighting, there is no reason to be afraid.

“Black bears are the least aggressive of their species,” Graham said. “It doesn’t take much to scare them off, and they rarely ever attack.”

Graham said the biggest problem with bear sightings in residential areas is the amount of things black bears get into that they shouldn’t.

“A black bear is very similar to an overgrown raccoon,” Graham said. “They can get into a lot of problems because they are attracted to smells and food.”

Peach also said black bears are generally not dangerous – they eat well, and don’t typically see humans as food.

Contact safety reporter Suzi Starheim at [email protected].