FRANKLIN, Wis. - A black bear was captured on video in Franklin near 60th and Ryan. It is the first bear sighting in Milwaukee County following reports in Kenosha, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties earlier this year.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Franklin police said they are aware of the sighting, and it might not be the only bear making its way across the region.
"With the number of reports, and some of them are a little bit far, it’s likely that there’s more than one," said the DNR's Sara Fischer.
The DNR said the bear in Franklin is most likely a young male that likely traveled from the northern part of the state.
"The roaming right now is not usually that uncommon. It’s young bears that are trying to strike out on their own, new territory, new baits – that kind of thing," Fischer said.
Although black bears are most common in the northern half of the state, populations have been slowly expanding south over the past decade. Wildlife experts say it has been a few years since a black bear was seen in this part of the state.
The DNR has not had any reports of the bear injuring anyone. To continue that trend, officials ask people to remove bird feeders and bring garbage cans inside.
"Loud noises will usually scare them away. So if you see one, say ‘hey bear’ really loud or start clapping," said Fischer. "You can wave your arms – not chaotically but to make yourself look bigger."
Sightings usually increase in early summer when young bears strike out on their own for the first time. Bear breeding season also occurs in early summer resulting in many male bears wandering around in search of a mate.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has a number of tips on how to avoid bear encounters and what to do if one approaches.
It is now just a matter of where the bear will be spotted next. If you come across a bear, the DNR asks you to report it. The USDA is also monitoring the bear's movements.