Witnesses phoned into the newsroom on Friday morning saying they spotted a young bear cub crossing the street at about 8:15 a.m. on Friday in New Hartford.

The witness said the bear cub crossed in front of the path of her vehicle on the corner of Jordan Road and Sanger Avenue. "It was a black bear cub that looked like a baby (bear)," the witness said. "It was the size of a large dog, but it was definitely a bear." No adult bears were spotted by the witnesses.

While it's rare to come into contact with black bears in the Utica-area, it's not unheard of. A bear was spotted in North Utica back in October of last year, and another was spotted around the same time in a residential area in Verona.

Credit - Kaitlyn Moon
Credit - Kaitlyn Moon

The NYS Dept. of Conservation says that bear cubs will stay with the mother bear for about 1 1/2 years. Typically during the winter, the female bear will give birth to about two or three cubs while she's in the den. The cubs will normally leave their mom before they're 2 and on average, the yearling will weigh about 100 lbs.

The DEC says that people who have an encounter with a bear cub should be very cautious as there's a good chance that a very protective mother bear is nearby.

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Some Dos and Don'ts if You Come Upon a Bear or Bear Cub


•Use noise to scare bears away: Yell, clap, or bang pots immediately upon sighting a bear, especially if you're at a campsite.

•Stay calm: Walk slowly and speak in a loud and calm voice.

•Leave slowly: Cautiously back away from the bear and leave the area.


•Approach, surround, or corner a bear: Bears aggressively defend themselves when they feel threatened. Be especially cautious around cubs as mother bears are very protective.

•Run from a bear: They may chase.

•Throw your backpack or food bag at an approaching bear: This will only encourage bears to approach and "bully" people to get food. By teaching a bear to approach humans for food, you are endangering yourself, other campers/residents, and the bears.

If You Encounter a Bear in A Building


•Provide an exit for the bear: Give the bear a clear escape route out of the building.

•Leave doors open: As you back away from the bear, leave all doors open.


•Lock the bear in a room: Locking the bear in the room creates a more frustrated bear. This endangers yourself and other who will release the bear from the building in the future.

Further Action

•If a bear approaches you: Raise your arms and speak in a loud, calm voice while backing away.

•If a bear charges you: Stand your ground. If you have bear spray (leaves DEC website), dispense directly at the bear.

•If a bear follows you: Stand your ground. Intimidate by making yourself look bigger by waving arms, clapping, shouting, or banging sticks. Prepare to fight or use bear spray.

•If a bear makes contact with you: Fight back with anything at hand (knife, stick, rocks, or fists).

It's estimated that there are about 6,000 to 8,000 bears in Upstate New York, according to the DEC. Transient bears are routinely encountered throughout the Mohawk Valley.

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