DEC Sets Bear Trap in Hannibal

    By on October 29, 2014
    • A large black bear pays a visit to the Harold Phillips residence in Hannibal. The Department of Environmental Conservation says more people are seeing bears near their homes as bears are finding new habitats outside their normal range.

    I’ve Got Grandkids, I Don’t Need a Bear Hanging Around

    The Department of Environmental Conservation has deployed a bear trap to catch the bear – or bears – frequenting the Hannibal area.

    Recently, Hannibal resident Harold Phillips complained in a Lakeshore News interview of a bear coming near his residence at least twice, chewing up a pumpkin and coming close enough for an eyeball to eyeball photo taken from a residence window.

    “I can’t speak to Mr. Phillip’s situation, because I haven’t spoken to him,” said Cortland-based DEC Wildlife Biologist Courtney LaMere, responding via e-mail to questions sent to the DEC press office. “But we have had other calls from the Hannibal area and we’ve given technical advice and did deploy a bear trap.”

    LaMere said bears are smart, and learn from experience.

    “They will repeat activity that results in an easy meal such as livestock feed or garbage,” LaMere said.

    LaMere said the range of black bears has been naturally expanding statewide.

    “This happens when bears are able to find suitable habitat outside of their historic range. They naturally spread to inhabit reforested areas. In some areas of Central New York, this means that residents are seeing bears near their homes for the first time,” LaMere said.

    LaMere advised that if a bear is walking through the area “there is no reason to be alarmed. It’s a treat for most people to be able to see a bear in the wild. Just give the bear space and back away slowly.”

    She said more information is posted on the DEC website at If people would like more information on how to live in an area inhabited by bears, or if they’re having “negative interactions” with bears, they can call DEC’s Cortland Wildlife Office at 607-753-3095 x 247.

    Bears are omnivores, but the vast majority of their diet is vegetation – fruit, and tree nuts.

    “It is important to secure food sources to keep the bear moving on its way,” she said. “This includes taking bird feeders down, storing garbage in a garage or shed until trash pick up, locking livestock feed in bins or in a secure outbuilding. Bears will move along if there is not an easy meal to be had.”

    Can’t Stay Away

    For Phillips, it seems the bears just can’t stay away, and he says no, he does not feed them.

    “I’ve got grandkids, I don’t need a bear hanging around,” he said.

    On a recent Sunday, the bear chewed on a pumpkin, then was up on its hind legs, pawing at windows on the back deck Phillips’ home.

    “It’s been in the area, making the rounds,” Phillips said.

    Phillips, who prefers his Hannibal street address not be published, said the bear has been to his residence twice – that he knows of.

    “Our dog lets us know if he’s here,” Phillips said. The dog is inside, but starts growling if a bear is nearby.

    Phillips says he bangs hard at the window, but the bear is unphased.

    “It’s definitely not afraid of humans,” he said.

    The bear’s comings and goings have left a long trail of comments on Facebook.

    “Tell that bear, it is not Halloween night yet!! Go away and come back then (not!) haha,” says one posting. “You need to open the door so you can get a better picture!!!!” said another.

    Spotted by Neighbors

    However, not everyone is laughing. The bear comes when it is dark out, and has some of Phillips’ neighbors on edge.

    “Up north, they break into camps. Around here, neighbors are worried about them getting into their houses,” he said.

    He told of a neighbor whose dog was on the deck barking.

    “He opened the door to see what was going on and a bear was right there, five or six feet away,” Phillips said.

    Phillips said he also heard that a bear crossed in front of a truck on Harris Hill Road, and said there is a report of someone seeing a bear and cub.

    In Martville, a resident also reported a black bear. It is unknown whether the same bear is making the rounds in both communities.

    The Hannibal bear appears to have no fear of humans – and apparently likes its new neighborhood.

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