As Ohio Valley Bear Sightings Increase, Experts DNR - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Experts Say More Bears Moving Through the Ohio Valley

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Mindy McCartney shared this photo taken in Moundsville on July 1. Mindy McCartney shared this photo taken in Moundsville on July 1.

These days, it doesn't take a big game hunter or a professional photographer to snap a picture of a black bear.

Bears are turning up on farms, in backyards and at camp sites, and plenty of residents with cell phones are taking pictures of them. But is that a good idea? And, what should you do if you encounter a bear?

We went to the experts in Ohio's state park system for the answers.

They say bears are interested in your lunch, not in you.

"As long as you're at a safe distance and you're not provoking the bear in any way, take your photo and go on," says Jason Carpenter, assistant manager at Barkcamp State Park.

"Bears are attracted to the food often brought in by the campers in our parks," said Mike Stewart, manager of Salt Fork State Park. "And that brings them in a little closer. And if you just let them have something to eat and go about their business, they'll usually not harm any of the public here."

They say pictures of bears are popping up all over social media.

So does this mean there are more bears, or perhaps more amateur photographers?

"A lot of folks have cell phones," says Carpenter. "So that means everybody's got a camera at a moment's notice. But also I think there are more bears moving through."

Park officials actually don't discourage people from taking pictures of bears.'

They advise them to take the picture and then just ease away. But, they say you should not get in the habit of feeding the bears.

Don't interrupt a hungry bear that's tearing into your potato chips, of course, but don't deliberately set out food for the bears.

"Contain your food," Carpenter advises campers. "Keep it in a cooler or a plastic container that cannot be opened, so food can't be strewn about the campsite by other animals like raccoons."

And, do not shoot the bear.

They say in Ohio, the bear is a protected animal year-round. The Buckeye State doesn't have a bear season.