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by Dave Emke July 10, 2017 at 10:15 am 8 Comments

Reader Mel Davidson shared the above photo of a bear that was spotted over the weekend near Reston.

Davidson said the bear was seen Saturday afternoon in the Stuart Ridge community, which has a Herndon address but is located near Fairfax County Parkway in the area of Reston’s Lake Newport Road.

The Fairfax County Police Department posted on Facebook on Sunday that there have been “several reports of bear sightings in park[s] and residential neighborhoods throughout the county.” According to police:

Bears typically avoid humans, but may wander into suburban areas in their search for food. Bears can cause serious property damage and if they lose their fear of humans and pose public safety concerns, they may have to be destroyed.

If you encounter or see a bear, do not approach it. Back away slowly and ensure it has an escape route. If a bear huffs or “woofs,” clacks its teeth, growls or slaps the ground, it is warning you that you are too close.

Conflicts with bears can be avoided by removing unnatural food sources. The most common are birdfeeders, garbage, compost piles, fruit trees, berry-producing and pet food left outside.

FCPD says bear sightings should be reported to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries by calling the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline at 855-571-9003, or to the county’s Animal Protection Police by calling 703-691-2131.

Photo courtesy Mel Davidson

by Karen Goff June 30, 2016 at 2:00 pm 4 Comments

A black bear made a visit to Herndon’s Fox Mill Estates Thursday morning.

Check it out as he explores Holkein Drive near Stratton Woods Park.

Thanks to resident Tiffany Ford for posting on the Fox Mill Estates’ Facebook page.

There are usually several bear sightings a season in this part of Fairfax County, especially in summer breeding season. County wildlife experts say to make sure garbage cans are secure to avoid bears looking for food. And keep a respectful distance if you see one.

by Karen Goff April 22, 2016 at 3:50 pm 2 Comments

Bear in Great Falls/FCPD

Beware of bears, say Fairfax County Police.

A Great Falls resident snapped this photo of a bear on Thursday. It was one of two bear sightings around Great Falls yesterday.

Police said the lone bear was spotted in the 800 block of Springvale Road in Great Falls around 7:22 a.m. Another (possibly the same bear) was reported in the 10700 block of Falls Pointe Drive around 10:49 a.m.

There were several bear sightings close to Reston (Vienna, Oakton) in late March, Fairfax County police report.

Anyone who spots a bear is reminded to keep a safe distance and asked to report the location to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries through the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline at (855) 571-9003.

Photo: Bear in Great Falls yard on April 22/Credit: FCPD

by Karen Goff March 25, 2016 at 10:00 am 3 Comments

Bears in Oakton/Credit FCPDFairfax County Police say two more residents have spotted black bears in this part of the county in recent days.

Last Sunday, there was a report of a black bear and a cub in Vienna.

Since then, two small black bears were seen crossing Oakton Road Wednesday morning. That location is near Waples Mill Meadow, Difficult Run Stream Valley Park and Tattersall Park.

Additionally, a black bear and cub (or possible yearling) were spotted by a resident in the 2700 block of Bowling Green Drive in Vienna on Thursday morning. 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.

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by Karen Goff March 21, 2016 at 4:30 pm 0

Bear sighting in Vienna/Credit: FCPDA black bear and a bear cub were spotted by residents in the 1500 block of Windstone Drive over the weekend, Fairfax County Police said.

Spring is the time when black bears and cubs emerge from their winter dens, so it is not unusual to see bears from mid-March to early May in Virginia.

The residents told police they saw the bears Sunday about 7 p.m. This location is near Difficult Run Stream Valley Park and Wolftrap Stream Valley Park.  Police said the bears posed no problems or issues, but did stay on the property for about an hour.

Here are some bear behavior tips from FCPD:

Bears typically avoid humans, but may wander into residential areas in their search for food.  Most often, bears will keep moving through an area once they fail in their attempts to find food.

Mother bears are protective over their cubs. If encountered, bears and their cubs should not be approached. When sensing danger, a female bear will typically send her cubs up a tree and leave the area. In such cases, the female will almost always return to gather up the cubs when no people or pets are around, usually after dark.

If a bear huffs or woofs, clacks its teeth, growls or slaps the ground, it is warning you that you are too close.

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.

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.

Black bears have a natural fear of humans, and in most cases, would rather flee than encounter people.

You may contact the Fairfax County Animal Services Division, Animal Control Section at (703) 691-2131 , for further information. Bear sightings should be reported to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries through the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline at (855) 571-9003 .

Photo: Bear in Fairfax County/FCPD file photo

by Karen Goff June 24, 2015 at 3:00 pm 2,985 7 Comments

Fairfax County Police said a black bear was spotted in the 1300 block of Trap Road in Vienna around 1 p.m. on Monday, but residents should not panic if they have a bear encounter.

The resident who snapped a picture of the bear close to a playground close to Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts (and just down the road from Reston) told police the bear posed no problems or issues. Police said this bear has likely “already moved through and not staying in the area.”

County Animal Control Officers and the Fairfax County Wildlife Management Specialist say it is not unusual to see black bears at this time of year and residents should not panic or feel alarmed when they see one.

From county animal control:

“Bears typically avoid humans, but in their search for food it is not uncommon to see one. Most often, bears will keep moving through an area once they fail in their attempts to find food.

“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. Black bears have a natural fear of humans, and in most cases, would rather flee than encounter people.”

The Fairfax County Wildlife Management Specialist and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries says residents should follow these tips to ensure bears stay away from homes:

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.

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.

Consider installing electric fencing, an inexpensive and extremely efficient proven deterrent to bears, around dumpsters, gardens, beehives, or other potential food sources.

If addressed quickly, this situation can be resolved almost immediately after you remove the food source. Sometimes, the bear may return searching for food, but after a few failed attempts to find it, will leave your property.

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