By Sophie Gorman Oriani

It’s not quite lions and tigers and bears, but many College Park residents must have said “oh, my!” when word spread of a sighting of a black bear in nearby University Park.

According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), black bears, the largest of which can top the scales at 750 or more, are typically not found in suburban areas, though we do see them here occasionally, especially in the spring..

While the bear apparently steered clear of College Park, it came near enough to cause a local stir. The city sent out a tweet warning residents to keep a distance and call 911 if they spotted the bear.

And another mammal we don’t often see here has been spotted in College Park: the Eastern coyote. They are a relative newcomer to Maryland; the first one was documented in the state in 1972. A coyote weighs in at 30 or 40 pounds and resembles a small German shepherd

Coyotes present very little risk to humans, according to the Humane Society. They are largely nocturnal, so we rarely even see them, and seeing a coyote during the day does not mean that it’s rabid; that’s an urban legend. They rarely harm humans, but coyotes have been known to attack and sometimes kill outdoor pets, as well as feral cats and smaller wildlife.

Luckily, good management strategies we use with other wildlife will help you with coyotes, and, yes, even the occasional bear: Keep your trash well contained, don’t let pets roam free, and never feed wild animals. If you do see a coyote or bear, don’t approach or interact with it in any way, but back away slowly. If you do see a bear, call 911 or the DNR police at 410.260.8888. If you are having non-emergency problems with coyotes or other wildlife, call DNR at  877.463.6497.