Natural resources officials say black bear activity, including sightings of the animals, is increasing in Frederick County, as they appeared to be recolonizing their population from east to west.
The Department of Natural Resources said recently that last year there were 40 sightings of black bears in the county. The News-Post of Frederick reports that there were only 14 such sightings in 2008.
Harry Spiker, a state bear biologist with DNR, said, "Over time, it's definitely been climbing. This is regionwide.''
The department also tracks bears killed by vehicles on the road, and surveys the animals by scent stations. Sardines in oil are hung from a tree at scent stations and activity is tracked by bear scat, tracks or damaged bait cans.
Officials say black bears in the state appear to be recolonizing their population, moving from west to east.
Black bears are not typically harmful, but residents should still use caution and avoid them. Adult black bears can weigh between 125 and 400 pounds.
"I like to tell people, treat it like they would a stray dog,'' Spiker said. "Don't run. They have a chase reflex like a dog. If you run, it may chase you.''