Black Bear Pays Visit to Ohio County Homes and Trash Cans

WHEELING — Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you and other times you just have to run to the new neighbor’s house for safety.

Wendy Poole and her husband, Dr. Keith Poole, did just that Sunday night. They had gone out to walk their dogs on Scenery Road near Wheeling Park High School just before dark Sunday. When they returned, they discovered a black bear in their yard blocking them from their front door.

It was one of a number of uncommon bear sightings in Ohio County reported over the weekend.

The Pooles moved from New Martinsville to the Scenery Road neighborhood just three weeks ago.

“At first, we thought it was a dog in the yard because there are some black labs in the neighborhood,” Wendy Poole said. “Then my husband looked closer and said, ‘My goodness that’s a black bear.'”

She said it was her first instinct to take off running, but then realized that might not be the best decision. The Pooles opted instead to step backwards out of their yard.

They then weren’t sure where to go, as they couldn’t get back to their house. Poole said she hadn’t brought her cell phone or any other items with her when she left for the walk.

The couple decided it was a good time to meet their new neighbors, June and Gerald Bischof. The Pooles knocked on their door, told them of the bear and that they needed inside.

June Bischof called 911, and was told by the operator there had been other reports of black bear sightings in the county. She began calling other neighbors to warn them to stay inside.

Meanwhile, Gerald Bischof and Keith Poole watched the bear pull out a filled trash bag from the Poole’s garbage can.

A short time later, a deputy sheriff arrived and chased away the bear by blaring the lights and siren on his cruiser, Wendy Poole said.

Sharon Travis reported seeing a bear Saturday night outside her home along W.Va. 88 above Covenant Community Christian Church.

She said she was home alone when she heard a sound. Her husband Dale feeds the birds and deer, and keeps large cans of seed and corn outside.

When Travis looked out, she said the bear had knocked over the bird seed and was “eating away” outside her door.

“I was scared, but I thought I just had to get that Facebook photo,” she said. “I opened the door and shooed him. The hair went high on his back, and that scared me. So I shut the door, and called the police.”

Travis said about “four or five” officers came, and they began to yell at him to tell him to leave. After at first resisting, the bear did eventually wander away, she said.

Steve Rauch, a wildlife biologist with West Virginia Department of Natural Resources District 1, said while it is uncommon for bear in West Virginia to travel any further north than Marshall County, they do sometimes go further up into the Northern Panhandle.

He estimates the bear is probably 2 years old, weighs about 100 pounds and has just left his mother.

“The male bears cubs stay with the sow for two years, then she kicks them out and they take off wandering,” Rauch explained.

He suggests those encountering the bear to make noise so they know you are there.

“Shout at them,” Rauch said. “They will take off.”

The bear is looking for easy food, he said. Rauch advises the public to keep their bird feeders higher off the ground, and to place their garbage cans inside if possible until trash day.

He said there is no real reason to be overly concerned about a bear.

“They are as dangerous as any wild animal can be,” Rauch said. “There is no more reason to be afraid just because the animal is a bear — other than the fact it is a bigger animal.

“You need to keep your distance, and don’t try to feed them,” he said. “It’s illegal.”