Washington, D.C./ Parks & Nature
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Published on May 09, 2024
Young Black Bear Sightings in Washington, DC's Brookland Neighborhood Spark Discussion on Urban WildlifeSource: Google Street View

Residents in Northeast DC had an unexpected visitor on Tuesday—a young black bear, ambling around the neighborhood, causing a stir and sparking conversations about wildlife in the city. A local resident of the Brookland area reported spotting the bear near 14th and Newtown Streets early morning, initially mistaking it for a "furry" dog, according to a post on social media platform X, as detailed by DC News Now.

Unlike the previously tagged bear known as Franklin who became a local celebrity last year, this particular bear did not appear to be ear-tagged. "You know that bear from last year, it had a whole year to grow. So I would expect it to be a larger bear at this point in time. And this bear looks like a young, yearling male to me," stated Jonathan Trudeau, a black bear expert with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Heritage Service, in an interview with FOX 5 DC. Trudeau urged the public to give the bear space and allow it to safely move through without human interference.

The young bear's appearance in DC's Brookland neighborhood is part of a growing trend of bear sightings in the region. Noelia Schmidt, Natural Resources Specialist with the Montgomery County Parks Department, talked to 7News, predicting that Montgomery County could be home to a permanent black bear population soon. "We’ve been seeing more bears coming down from Western Maryland into the county. So these are 18-month-old bears, they are normally the male teenage bears that are coming down. They got booted out by mom, and they are coming down looking for habitat, looking for a place to set up shop," Schmidt explained.

The American Black Bear (Ursus americanus), which can vary in color from black to brown, cinnamon, and even blonde, has witnessed a comeback thanks largely to conservation efforts and forest habitat improvements. While the sight of a black bear might be a novelty in the city, wildlife experts and authorities ask residents to keep distance and avoid creating potentially dangerous interactions, as well as to remember that these bears are still wild animals despite their appearance in our backyards.