A black bear that was spotted near the Newton/Needham line Monday morning may have been the same bear spotted in Westwood and other surrounding towns over the weekend.
The first sighting in the area was reported in Medfield on Saturday, when residents of the Granite Street and South Street areas reported seeing the animal roaming the neighborhoods.
On Sunday morning, at around 6:30 a.m., the Westwood Police Department received one report of a black bear sighting by a resident of Nahatan Street. No other sightings, however, were reported in town over the weekend.
The story was a bit different in Dedham and Norwood, however.
The Norwood Police Department received several calls around 10 p.m. Saturday of a black bear sighting in the areas of Churchill Drive, Iverness Road and Cypress Street, according to police. The most recent sighting in that town was in the Norwest Woods complex; Norwood Police subsequently contacted the Massachusetts Environmental Police.
Dedham Police received reports of sighting. The first sighting occured at around 8:13 p.m. on Sunday, June 24, in the Great Meadow Road area, according to police reports.
"We did have several reports of black bear sightings," said Dedham Lt. Robert Nedder. "I would believe it is the same bear from Medfield, but obviously can't verifty that."
Another sighting was reported around 8:38 p.m. near Eagan Terrace on Sunday, with another report coming in at 9:20 p.m. near Massachusetts Avenue, and yet another at 9:58 p.m. near Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street. Sightings were also reported near Massachusetts Avenue in Dedham around 10:18 p.m., with the last report coming in at around 10:40 p.m. near Riverside Drive.
As a result of the reports Sunday night, Dedham Police activated the town's emergency response system to notify area residents by phone of the sightings.
Reports of black bear sightings also occurred near Legacy Place in Dedham, as well as in parts of Walpole, according to a MyFoxBoston.com report. Earlier this month, authorities captured a black bear in Wellfleet.
Sightings in the area this time of year aren't unheard of, according to Reginald Zimmerman, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
"One thing is that we're in the midst of mating season, which will go until mid-July," Zimmerman said. "The majority of bears that we're seeing are young males, and they're searching for a mate."
The bears, though, don't pose an immediate threat, he added.
"With black bears, they tend to be afraid of humans," Zimmerman said. "That being said, we encourage people to keep their distance from them."
For residents who spot black bears near their homes, Zimmerman said banging pots together or making loud noise can help scare the animals off.
"When you see coyotes, essentially it's the same thing," Zimmerman said. "For the welfare of the animal, we tell people to stay away from them."
Black bears have been increasing in numbers during the last 30 years, according to Mass WildLife's website. While most sightings are common in western Massachusetts, the bears are also common in the central region, but are usually rare or absent in the eastern part of the state.
While citizens should express caution when spotting a black bear, the animals are not overtly vicious, accoring to Mass WildLife:
"Despite popular belief, black bears are not fierce. Their first response is usually to flee and in woodland areas the bears may disappear long before they are seen. Black bears sometimes can become habituated to human presence and conditioned to human food sources. These circumstances may then lead to damage or depredations which have unfortunate consequences if people then destroy the bear out of fear or to alleviate the damage. Black bears rarely harm people, although minor defensive attacks can occur when people tease or closely approach bears in parks or campgrounds."
Have you seen the black bear in the area? Let us know in our comments section below, upload your photos here and add the location to our interactive map!
Norwood Patch Editor Kelly Glista contributed to this report.