Bear, human contact discouraged

A large black bear is seen walking near the Heights Manor apartment building in LaCroft on Saturday night. City officials are warning people to stay away from and not feed the bear—one of two spotted Saturday night. (Photo courtesy of the city of East Liverpool)

EAST LIVERPOOL–Although two black bears were spotted in East Liverpool Saturday night, it was hard to tell who caused the greater commotion–the animals or the humans.

Authorities had to disperse a crowd at Heights Manor in LaCroft more than once after a large black bear was seen getting into some trash around 8-8:30 p.m. Saturday.

“One guy was literally hand-feeding him when I pulled up. I was just shaking my head,” said Service-Safety Director Brian Allen. The man was holding a young child while he was doing it.

City police were on scene with the bear at Heights Manor when calls started to come in for another sighting near Shadyside Avenue and Campground Road.

No injuries were reported despite the unauthorized interaction between man and beast.

“The (Heights Manor) tenants we talked to said they’ve seen this bear numerous times,” Allen said. “He’s been around people a lot–you can tell that.”

Mayor Ryan Stovall described the bear seen in LaCroft as 6 years old and weighing approximately 400 pounds. “There have been sightings of this bear since 2010,” he said.

After police responded, city officials called in two ODNR wildlife officers from Columbiana County. They fired rubber bullets and attempted to drive the bear back to its den off Irish Ridge Road, Stovall said, noting that bears don’t start hibernating until mid-December.

Officers would have no reason to kill the bear unless it attacked a human–making it all the more important for people to stay away from the animals, Allen said.

“The people who are feeding the bear are actually putting the bear in danger,” he said.

The older bear may have to be trapped and relocated, Stovall said.

In the meantime, people should not feed or otherwise interact with the bears.

Allen said part of the problem is the trash that is left around the dumpsters at Heights Manor. People throw their trash bags over the barriers but miss the dumpsters, which attracts the hungry bear.