Residents Worried About Injured Bear in Northwest Pittsfield

Residents Worried About Injured Bear in Northwest Pittsfield

Residents in Northwest Pittsfield are increasingly concerned about an injured bear that has been spotted wandering through the area. The bear, which appears to have a broken leg, has been seen traveling with her cub near St. Joseph Cemetery and along Hancock Road and Churchill Road. The sightings have been captured on home-security cameras and shared on social media, particularly on a Lanesborough community Facebook page.

Ward 7 Councilor Rhonda Serre has received numerous calls from worried residents. She emphasized the potential danger of having an injured bear in a residential neighborhood, both for the safety of the residents and the bear itself. “As kind human beings, we have the responsibility of helping if possible,” Serre said. “An injured bear is an angry bear.”

Serre expressed a desire to find a way to rehabilitate the bear and release her back into the wild. “It’s very obvious it’s not just a little booboo on her foot,” she noted. However, Dave Wattles, the Black Bear Project leader at MassWildlife, advised residents not to interfere by providing aid or food. He explained that there is no facility in the state equipped to treat the bear, but bears have an incredible ability to heal on their own.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of vehicle collisions with bears where they end up with potentially a broken leg or a leg injury,” Wattles said. “People also will shoot bears for various reasons, so there’s a number of reasons they can have these injuries.”

Serre has been contacted by several constituents who have shared pictures and videos of the bear, which is seen limping and unable to put pressure on her right front leg. The bear and her cub seem to have a daily pattern, moving up a hill during the day and coming down later. “It seems like her cub is scavenging for her,” Serre observed. “She will lay down, and he will go in and get the garbage bags.”

On Monday, the bear was spotted near Brooks Avenue. A Ring camera video posted on Sunday showed the two entering a Pittsfield garage and snacking on garbage, with the injured bear lying down. The Pittsfield Police Department has received several calls about the bear over the past week. “Our dispatch has received several calls over the last week regarding an injured black bear with what RP’s say is a broken leg,” wrote Capt. Matthew Hill. “It has been seen on Brooks Ave. in Pittsfield several times and yesterday it was in the area of Capeless School. [Monday] was trash day in that area, and more than likely, it is getting into the trash left out.”

The Environmental Police and MassWildlife have been notified and are aware of the situation. Police are advising citizens to contact MassWildlife at 413-684-1646 for non-emergencies or the Police Department at 911 for any emergencies.

Wattles mentioned that it is common to get reports of injured bears. While MassWildlife had not heard about this specific bear, they were alerted to an injured bear in Adams last week. “The public often wants to know if the bear can be helped. Unfortunately for bears, with the exception of very small cubs, it’s really not possible to rehab them,” Wattles said. “Just the idea that you would be doing some sort of orthopedic aid to this animal and then keeping it still for that time to heal.”

Despite the challenges, Wattles offered some hope. If the bear is mobile, it can find food and “do just fine.” He shared a story of a female bear that MassWildlife has tracked for over a decade. This bear had a shattered hind leg but has survived and thrived, giving birth to multiple litters. “She is still perfectly capable of surviving, and we’ve tracked her with a GPS collar. You wouldn’t know anything from the movements on the collar that she was any different from any other bear,” he said. “So these injuries can either heal entirely or the bear can deal with them as long as they can get along.”

Wattles emphasized the importance of not feeding bears, removing bird feeders, securing garbage, and using electric fences to keep bears away from chickens and bees. “It really is important for the health of the bears and to prevent conflict with the public that people actually take that messaging seriously,” he said.

The situation remains a topic of concern and discussion among Pittsfield residents, who are hoping for a resolution that ensures the safety of both the community and the injured bear.

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