DELMAR — Bethlehem’s bear has supposedly returned after seemingly leaving back in May.
A local resident uploaded a 13-second video of what appears to be a mature bear cub running through the Bethlehem Central High School grounds on Sunday, June 20. The cub appears to jog along the front of the high school, chased by the sound of the ride-on lawn mower, of which the operator captured the video.
The video garnered several comments from residents on the Nextdoor social media website, none of which read as worrisome as those from last month.
“I pay enough taxes for the kids to go to school there,” wrote Bill Asprion. “I’m not paying for the bear, too.”
Residents reported trash tossed from dumpsters in Delmar and spotting one on the county rail trail in Elsmere. Yet another report claimed a bear was spotted across the Albany City Line in the townhouse neighborhood of New Scotland Woods.
Witnesses throughout the heart of town reported seeing a bear in May. Those reports originated in the Olde Delmar part of town, along Royal Boulevard, Forsten and Hasgate drive, and Mosher and Paxwood roads.
Bethlehem and state Environmental Conservation Police had ushered a bear through Delmar last May, only for residents to later report more evidence of bear visits. But, those reports dissipated in the following weeks. The bear, or bears, appeared to travel with more reports coming from Albany and Schenectady.
Bear sightings are relatively common in less developed areas of town. South Bethlehem and Selkirk residents often share seeing bears in backyards. However, it is not so uncommon to spot a bear within the clusters of homes within Delmar. In 2018, a resident reported that her family’s bird-feeding station was destroyed after a bear visited her backyard neighboring Hamagrael Elementary School.
The town website has warned residents to avoid bear encounters, including tips on how to prevent encouraging bears from visiting their homes. Experts recommend removing bird feeders, to not feed household pets outside, removing grease from grills, and storing garbage cans indoors.
Wildlife experts say black bears emerge out of hibernation once winter temperatures thaw around mid-March. At that time, they will wander from their dens in search of food. A bear’s sense of smell allows it to pick up a scent from a mile away.
According to the state DEC, bears are opportunistic feeders and will remember where they can find easy food. Once they find a source, they will return to that location.
If you should see a bear in your neighborhood, the Town asks you contact the Bethlehem Police Department Animal Control at 518-439-9973.