GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The sighting of black bears in Ardsley this week brought back memories of a bear romp in 1997 that had Greenburgh police scurrying in malls along Central Park Avenue to catch the hungry critter who stopped to eat at Venetian Delight Pizza before being captured at the Ridgeway Golf Club in White Plains.
According to a New York Times archive s report for May 10, 1997, the roaming bear was caught on the 15th hole of the Ridgeway golf course, a short walk from Bloomingdale's in White Plains.
Two agents from the Environmental Conservation Department helped capture and release the 195-pound bear in the Catskills, the Times reported.
Then-Greenburgh Police Chief John Kapica told the Times he had not heard of a bear in the Greenburgh area in his 27 years on the job.
Black bears have survived as suburban communities have captured and developed more and more land and unused upstate farmland has become more wooded. Westchester residents, used to seeing skunks, raccoons, deer, opossum and groundhogs, are becoming accustomed to sharing their "property" with foxes, wild turkeys, coyotes and even bears.
Jim Dreisacker, owner of Westcheter Wildlife , which assists in the removal and preservation of animals, said the black bear population is on the rise in Westchester and that young bears can be spotted wandering and foraging.
"We gave been getting more and more calls about bears especially in Putnam and the northern suburbs," Dreisacker said. "The young bears are curious and they are omnivorous so they eat most anything. We suggest that people don't leave garbage uncovered -- they also like bird feeders."
Dreisacker said black bears usually shy away from humans and are not as much of a problem as the more aggressive coyote, which may attack pets or humans.
"We tell people to use common sense and not to approach any wild animal." he said. "We will be seeing more of the black bear for sure."
Have you had a close encounter with a Westchester animal resident? Tell us about it here in the comments box.
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