Bears sighted in Kent

(Original publication: October 26, 2004)

KENT ­ Melissa Purdy became a little concerned last week when she saw a black bear wandering in her Hortontown Road neighborhood as she was putting her oldest son on the school bus.

"He smelled my garbage, then walked across the street and up the hill," she said yesterday. "Everyone who saw him was saying that you'll never see that bear again."


On Saturday night, while turning off her lights as she and her family were preparing to call it a day, she looked out the front window.

"The bear was right there on our front porch," she said. "I said to my husband, 'Greg, the bear is back.' We felt like we were trapped in our home. It was big, too. It probably weighed 400 pounds."

Police responded, but the bear was in no hurry.

"He looked over at the cop, then went back to eating my garbage," Purdy said.

The officer activated his cruiser's lights and sirens until the bear slowly got up, walked across the road and into the woods.

Kent police have received more than 30 calls since late May about wandering black bears. The 32nd one came 30 minutes after Purdy's, from a resident of the Sedgewood Club off Route 301. It's led police to surmise that at least two bears are roaming the town's woods. Purdy's 3-year-old son is worried one will attack him.

That's unlikely, but possible, said Wayne Bosowicz, a black-bear expert from Maine.

"The bear is basically afraid of man, but the more they get used to man, the greater the potential for harm," Bosowicz said. "Bears are more afraid of people than we are of them, but to say they can't kill you would be insane. They could do it in a heartbeat."

Bosowicz said the best way to avoid bears is to bring in the welcome mat. "Garbage must be locked up, and bird feeders need to be eliminated," he said.

"Let them go on their way," Kent police Lt. Alex DiVernieri said. "Leave them alone."


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Wednesday, January 5, 2005