The Thursday morning commute southbound on Interstate 83 became a bit more wild and hairy than normal for one unfortunate motorist, and you can hear the surprise in the voice of a motorist following behind who dialed 911.
"There is a bear lying next to the fast lane,” the caller tells a dispatcher, “I don't know whether it's dead or alive, but it's going to really create a bit of a... everybody's going to look at it. It's unusual to have a bear in this area."
Unusual in this area, but it is the second bear hit on I-83, along with one struck on Interstate 95 in Harford County and yet another along the Baltimore Washington Parkway in Jessup----all in the last two weeks.
Paul Peditto of the Maryland Natural Resource's Wildlife and Heritage Service says this is the season when mother bears shoo away last year's cubs, and the now-juvenile bears are left to seek out their own territory.
"We're fortunate that we have all these wonderful river corridors, the Potomac, the Susquehanna and so on, and they travel down those river corridors trying to avoid other bears until they get to a place where there are no other bears sort of knocking them around and in many cases, that's a place---either Montgomery County or Baltimore or Harford in this case where they're sort of stuck wondering, 'How did I get here and why am I here?' said Peditto.
The good news is that Maryland's black bears have made a real rebound.
After nearing extinction, today it's estimated there are 1200 in the state, but sadly, we average about one bear fatality each week on our roads, and much like deer, experts say if one crosses your path while driving, you should brake, but don't veer to miss them.
"Bears are big, fluffy, soft animals,” said Peditto, “We don't like people running into them, but we would much rather you run into that animal than run into a tree or a telephone pole on the side of the road."
Should you encounter a bear near your home, experts suggest you put away any food source such as barbecue grills, bird feeders or trash cans, but they say there's nothing to fear.
They equate juvenile bears to large raccoons and add they are far more scared of you, than you should be of them.