Something’s bruin in Dartmouth: Black bear spotted in yard

May 22, 2023

Monday mornings can be a bear. 

That was literally the case May 22 in one Dartmouth neighborhood.

A black bear was photographed in the area of Collins Corner Road off Old Fall River Road, according to Dartmouth Police.

The image, captured by a home surveillance system, shows the animal carrying an item believed to be a hummingbird feeder. 

The bear, believed to be a male about two years old, is “100 percent’’ the same animal that had been also seen in Fall River, New Bedford and Freetown in the days before and after the Dartmouth sighting, said Dave Wattles, black bear and furbearer biologist for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

“This is the first one I recall being that far south’’ in Massachusetts, Waddle said. “We don’t get that many reports south of Worcester.’’

But the population is definitely growing and moving, he said.

In the last 50 years, the bear population has expanded due to additional tree replanting and more hunting restrictions, Waddle said. From a small area in the northwest corner of the state, bears have slowly but steadily moved east and south, he said.

When too many bears settle in one area, the animals can’t compete for food and space so the young males tend to disperse and “look for a new area,’’ he said, which is likely the case here.

One place they readily find food, he said, is in backyard bird feeders, not unlike the hummingbird feeder the Dartmouth bear appeared to have stolen.

Feeders provide “free meals’’ for bears. “There’s 1,000 calories right there in a little tube,’’ he said.

People in areas where bears are common are advised to remove feeders. 

For people in towns such as Dartmouth, where bear sightings are rare, feeders can remain in place but should be taken down if a sighting has been reported, he advised.

Another draw for bears, he said, is the backyard chicken coop, something that he said has “exploded’’ in popularity in the last 10 to 15 years and particularly after the pandemic.

“We’re constantly getting calls about bears and chickens,’’ he said. Virtually no chicken coop cannot be broken into by a bear, he said, which is why he suggests placing electronic fencing to deter them.

Black bears are “not inherently aggressive,’’ he said, and are generally “indifferent’’ to people and pets.

But he advised giving bears their space and not crowding or chasing them. 

“As is the case with any wild animal of this size and unpredictable demeanor, we recommend that you refrain from feeding or approaching it,’’ Dartmouth Police wrote on Facebook. “In addition, we also recommend that you do not leave your domestic pets unattended outside.’’

Beyond that, Dartmouth Police spokesman Det. Kyle Costa quipped, there is little to do except “grin and bear it.’’