WAYNE TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – A black bear in Wayne Township, Lawrence County, caused quite a commotion Sunday night.

Alerted by the barking of his dog, owner Gary Strawhecker saw what he thought was a big black dog in his yard.

He changed his mind when it climbed a tree.

“It’s going to get more, because breeding season is June and July,” says conservation officer Randy Pilarcic. “So the males are out, moving around more and more, and you’re going to see them more often. They cover a lot of territory looking for receptive females.”

He says post hibernation hunger also plays a role.

“Say they’re getting in your bird feeder or in your garbage, or in your barbecue grill,” he said. “You want to bring your bird feeders in for the night, put your garbage in a can, or preferably some kind of container, or maybe in the garage, or a shed, too.”

Why do black bears climb trees? Because they can.

“They’re the only bear that can climb trees in North America,” Pilarcic says. “And that’s one way for them to get away from perceived danger. They can climb a tree. Regardless of their size, they can climb a tree pretty quick.”

After an hour or so of sitting in the tree, the Wayne Township bear finally came down and ambled off into some bushes.

Though black bears aren’t normally aggressive, they’re best viewed from a distance.

“Once they’re in a tree or whatever, just leave them alone,” the conservation officer says. “Back off and enjoy.”

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