Howard County homeowner catches bear in backyard on camera

Bear population on the rise in Maryland

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. - A Howard County homeowner this week captured a black bear... on her camera.

"Where do you see a bear in the middle of Howard County," said Denise Tester, with a laugh. 

Most of us don't spot a bear, but Tester keeps her sense of humor with memories of the animal in her yard.  Before she tells her story, we'll tell you she has no scratches on her body.

MORE: Maryland black bear population up 94 percent in western counties as sightings reported elsewhere

It was Sunday night when the sounds of a cry woke her up and went on for an hour. 

"It sounded like something hurt or really sad," said Tester.   

Tester got her husband out of bed too, and then they saw black fur in their yard.   

"He pointed a flash light at the bear, which got up and ran to the back of the yard, kind of turned around and looked at him and disappeared," said Tester.   

Three bird feeders were knocked down and empty.  Peanuts, fruit, sunflower seeds and meal worms were gone.

So Monday night, they fixed up the feeders and set up their game camera, that detects heat and motion. The next morning they found pictures of the bear just hanging out in their backyard.

The bear came in from the woods but this is Rockburn Drive in Ellicott City, where there are plenty of homes and plenty of people to scare.

Ken D'Loughy with the Department of Natural Resources said the bear probably traveled on foot from Western Maryland.

"The young cubs can stay with the adult female bear. They'll stay with the adults now for two years. At the end of the second year, as an adult female, she's going to be approaching a new breeding season, her cubs are driven off," said D’Loughy.

D'Loughy said they can walk 10 to 15 miles a day.  They are hunting for food, not people.  Now Tester's neighbors are out looking for tracks, fascinated by the story and fishing for a similar sighting.

"This is a lifetime, unbelievable memory that I'll have. I've never imagined that I'll see a bear wild in my own backyard," said Tester.          

DNR says it's likely one bear that's been spotted four times East of Rt. 29 and North of Rt. 32.  It's not aggressive, but if you see it, you're advised to keep a distance. 

If you live in Ellicott City or Columbia, to be safe, you could take down bird feeders, secure trash cans and clean food off your grill.

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