SHALERSVILLE TOWNSHIP, Ohio - Steve Barton, of Shalersville Township, came home Friday to find a huge crowd in his yard. After getting out of his car to find out what was going on, someone told him there was a bear in his yard.
"We get a lot of wildlife from this area, but I never thought I'd see a bear," Barton said.
Barton grabbed his camera and snapped images of the bear enjoying peanuts from his bird feeder. The visiting animal stayed for about 15 minutes before running into the woods. Thankfully for Steve, the bird feeder remained intact.
"I highly recommend bungee cords for your bird feeder because they are bear-proof," he explained.
Ronnie Pascal was in the crowd at Barton's home and captured video of the bear trying to get inside Steve's bird feeder. For Ronnie, this was a new sight in Ohio.
"I used to hunt in Pennsylvania and obviously they are up there, but never seen one around here. Only thing I have ever seen here is a couple turkeys and deer," laughed Pascal.
Portage County safety officials received a dozen reports of sightings in the past three weeks. Air horns and sirens were used to move bears back into wooded areas. Being a community safety issue, officials warned residents to be aware of their surroundings and to call the Portage County Sheriff if a bear is seen.
Sam Eisele, owner of Save 4 Store in Shalersville, put up a sightings scorecard Monday on the sign outside his store. Bears sightings had a comfortable lead over zero sightings for elephants and zebras.
"The zeros are ones we are kind of hoping for," said Eisele. "Of course, we are not holding out a whole lot of hope but you never can tell."