HORSEHEADS, N.Y. (WETM) – A large bear is roaming a neighborhood in Horseheads, looking for food. Wildlife officials are warning residents to be careful. Several homeowners have reported seeing the bear wandering into their yards in the area of Bennet Circle, not far from the Mark Twain Golf Course. One woman told 18 News the bear ripped through a screen door and got inside a room of her home. The animal then exited through the same opening and left paw prints leading to the home’s garbage cans. Another homeowner also showed 18 News fresh paw prints leading to his backyard.

“The bear has been here for about a week, week and a half now, ever since he woke up,” said homeowner John Schill. His home security cameras show the bear roaming his yard, and even delivering a bag of bird seed.

“Yeah, the bear stole a bird seed bag out of our driveway and brought it up and put it in front of our double doors there,” said Schill. “I thought that was kind of amazing for a bear to go out and try to do something like that. He tore all of our bird feeders down. He likes the sunflower seeds, especially.

“What do you see him doing?” asked 18 News reporter Nicolas Dubina.

“He lays right out here underneath our bird feeders and just reaches up and grabs the bird feeder and pulls it down and starts eating away,” answered Schill.

The Department of Environmental Conservation says its aware of the bear sightings in the Bennet Circle area of Horseheads. Homeowners are being told not to leave any bird feeders outside, lock up their garbage, and don’t feed the bear in any way. If you see the bear, do not approach it and don’t run. Here is what wildlife officials say you should do if you see a bear.

If You Encounter a Bear at Your Campsite


  • Use noise to scare bears away: Yell, clap, or bang pots immediately upon sighting a bear near your campsite.
  • Stay calm: Walk slowly and speak in a loud and calm voice.
  • Leave slowly: Cautiously back away from the bear and leave the area.


  • Approach, surround, or corner a bear: Bears aggressively defend themselves when they feel threatened. Be especially cautious around cubs as mother bears are very protective.
  • Run from a bear: They may chase.
  • Throw your backpack or food bag at an approaching bear: This will only encourage bears to approach and “bully” people to get food. By teaching a bear to approach humans for food, you are endangering yourself, other campers/residents, and the bears.

If You Encounter a Bear in A Building


  • Provide an exit for the bear: Give the bear a clear escape route out of the building.
  • Leave doors open: As you back away from the bear, leave all doors open.


  • Lock the bear in a room: Locking the bear in the room creates a more frustrated bear. This endangers yourself and other who will release the bear from the building in the future.

Further Action

  • If a bear approaches you: Raise your arms and speak in a loud, calm voice while backing away.
  • If a bear charges you: Stand your ground. If you have bear spray dispense directly at the bear.
  • If a bear follows you: Stand your ground. Intimidate by making yourself look bigger by waving arms, clapping, shouting, or banging sticks. Prepare to fight or use bear spray.
  • If a bear makes contact with you: Fight back with anything at hand (knife, stick, rocks, or fists).

Plan Ahead

Remove all attractants: Follow DEC’s guidelines for reducing human-bear conflicts at home, at your campsite, and while in the backcountry by removing all attractants from the area.

Pack bear spray: Purchase and learn how to use bear spray (leaves DEC website) before the trip.

Use the buddy system: Multiple people together appear to be a greater threat to the bear in case of an encounter. Do not separate.