Bears on the Move

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Police have been notified of two additional reports of bear sightings in the Vienna/Oakton area.

Two small black bears were seen crossing Oakton Rd. on the morning of Wednesday, March 23. This location is near Waples Mill Meadow, Difficult Run Stream Valley Park and Tattersall Park.

A black bear and cub (or possible yearling) were spotted by a resident in the 2700 block of Bowling Green Dr., Vienna on Thursday morning, March 24. The bears were reported to have taken down a birdfeeder and plastic cabinet on the resident’s patio. The bears also took a bag of birdseed from the cabinet before heading into the wooded easement along Interstate 66.

An earlier sighting of a bear and cub was reported in the Vienna area on Sunday, March 20.

Bears typically avoid humans, but in their search for food it is not uncommon to see one. Residents should not panic or feel alarmed when they see one. Bears are attracted by bird feeders, garbage, outdoor pet food, compost piles, fruit trees, and berry-producing shrubs. If addressed quickly, situations can be resolved almost immediately by removing the food source. Sometimes, the bear may return searching for food, but after a few failed attempts to find it, will leave the property. Most often, bears will keep moving through an area once they fail in their attempts to find food.

The Fairfax County Wildlife Management Specialist and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries suggest residents take the following precautions to minimize encounters with black bears:

  • Keep a respectful distance! In most cases, the bear will move on quickly.
  • If a bear is up a tree on or near your property, give it space. Do not approach, and bring your pets inside to provide the bear a clear path to leave your property.
  • If you see a very small cub, do not try to remove it from the area or “save it.”
  • The best way to encourage the bear not to return is to remove food sources.
  • Do not store household trash, or anything that smells like food, in vehicles, on porches or decks.
  • Keep your full or empty trash containers secured in a garage, shed or basement.
  • Take your garbage to the dump frequently.
  • If you have a trash collection service, put your trash out the morning of the pickup, not the night before.
  • Take down your birdfeeder for 3-4 weeks after the bear visits.
  • Encourage your neighbors to take similar precautions.

Unless the animal is sick or injured, or poses a threat to public safety, Animal Control Officers do not take actions to attempt to remove bears from a neighborhood.

Bear sightings should be reported to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries through the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline at (855) 571-9003.

For more information, see: