Dear residents and businesses,

There has been siting of a black bear in the vicinity of Grant/Hospital roads. Our animal control officer, Gary Teague, is investigating the situation to ensure the safety of our community.

Please be aware of your surroundings and let me know if you do sight the bear. From what I understand, the bear has been spotted mostly in the morning hours

Below are some guidelines if you happen to encounter a black bear.

Black bears

If you see a bear, Fish and Wildlife suggests you enjoy it from a distance, advertise your presence by shouting and waving your arms or walk slowly away. Never attempt to feed or attract bears.

Bear attacks on humans are exceptionally rare, Fish and Wildlife says. In most hiking areas, bears normally leave once they have sensed a human. However, at campsites and campgrounds, bears can be attracted by poorly stored food and garbage.

If you see a bear when hiking or camping, make your presence known by making noise and waving your arms. If you surprise a bear at close range, walk away slowly while facing the bear. Do not run, Fish and Wildlife says. Try to stay calm as you make your retreat.

Black bears will sometimes "bluff charge" to within a few feet of you when they feel threatened. If this happens, stand your ground and shout at the bear. Do not climb a tree because black bears are excellent tree climbers. Make sure your dog is on a leash and under control.

To avoid attracting bears to your yard, be sure to remove bird feeders March through November and other food attractants. Adding capfuls of ammonia to trash bags can also mask food odors. Fish and Wildlife suggests you don't leave pet food out overnight, don't add meat or sweets to a compost pile and make sure you clean your grill after use.

Experience has shown that a single wandering bear can be responsible for numerous sightings, Fish and Wildlife says. Experience has also shown that, given an avenue for escape, bears will usually wander back into more secluded areas.

People should not feed bears, either intentionally or unintentionally. Bears that associate food with people become problem bears that will not be tolerated by all property owners.

-- Kathy O'Connor, MassDevelopment, 978-784-2922 or koconnor@massdevelopment.com