Video: Bear spotted in Marion

May 24, 2023

MARION — A black bear that has made it’s way through Fall River, New Bedford, Freetown and Dartmouth is now in Marion as of Wednesday, May 24. 

The bear was first spotted at approximately 12:30 p.m. crossing Route 6 in Marion heading toward Converse Road. 

“As with any wild animal of this size, please refrain from feeding it or approaching it,” said Marion police in a Facebook post. “We also recommend that you keep pets indoors.”

By approximately 1 p.m., Massachusetts Environmental Police tracked the bear to an area surrounding 158 Converse Road. 

Environmental Police officers on the scene declined to comment.

Marion resident Tanya Ambrosi captured brief video of the bear in the woods. 

“I just looked out the window of my house and saw the bear,” said Ambrosi. “It was amazing,” she said. 

She added that her son, Elliot Ambrosi, who was riding his bike on the street was told to go home by police.

Marion resident Pete Kelly saw the bear in his back yard before it jumped over a fence and ran away. He estimated it to be around 250 pounds. 

“It was solid [and] hefty,” he said.

The bear, believed to be a male about two years old, is “100 percent’’ the same animal that had been also seen in Fall River, New Bedford and Freetown and Dartmouth in the days before the Marion sighting, said Dave Wattles, black bear and furbearer biologist for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

“This is the first one I recall being that far south’’ in Massachusetts, Waddle said. “We don’t get that many reports south of Worcester.’’

But the population is definitely growing and moving, he said.

In the last 50 years, the bear population has expanded due to additional tree replanting and more hunting restrictions, Waddle said. From a small area in the northwest corner of the state, bears have slowly but steadily moved east and south, he said.

When too many bears settle in one area, the animals can’t compete for food and space so the young males tend to disperse and “look for a new area,’’ he said, which is likely the case here.

One place they readily find food, he said, is in backyard bird feeders.

Feeders provide “free meals’’ for bears. “There’s 1,000 calories right there in a little tube,’’ he said.

People in areas where bears are common are advised to remove feeders.

For people in towns such as Marion, where bear sightings are rare, feeders can remain in place but should be taken down if a sighting has been reported, he advised.

Another draw for bears, he said, is the backyard chicken coop, something that he said has “exploded’’ in popularity in the last 10 to 15 years and particularly after the pandemic.

“We’re constantly getting calls about bears and chickens,’’ he said. Virtually no chicken coop cannot be broken into by a bear, he said, which is why he suggests placing electronic fencing to deter them.

Black bears are “not inherently aggressive,’’ he said, and are generally “indifferent’’ to people and pets.

But he advised giving bears their space and not crowding or chasing them.