JOHNSON CREEK — Residents in a Jefferson County neighborhood got a surprise visitor when a black bear appeared on one of their front lawns.
It happened early Tuesday in a Johnson Creek development just north of the outlets, and it was all caught on Rocco and Janoah Bartolotta’s home surveillance camera.
The people who live there are no strangers to wildlife, but they had never seen a black bear in their community.
The video is quick and shows a large bear walking along a path in front of a home, keeping to itself.
Carolyn Wagner lives feet away from the house where it appeared.
“He’s walking right down the sidewalk! Shut the front door!” Wagner said as she watched the video. “One time I’m not up at 3 in the morning.”
She didn’t see the bear, but for the last week she and others felt something was up in their neighborhood.
“I hear stuff in that forest every night, and I wonder what’s out there,” she said. “Maybe a bear.”
“The dogs have been getting all turned up and upside down at just about 2:40 in the morning,” neighbor Joe Neary added.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says the state is home to more than 28,000 bears, but most live in the far northern part of the state.
However, Large Carnivore Specialist Scott Walter said it’s becoming more common to see bears, such as the one caught on camera, here in the southern region of the state, as the population increases up north.
“The yearlings are coming out of the den with their mother, and they’re becoming independent,” Walter said.
He said most likely the bear is searching for food, and that residents shouldn’t be concerned if they keep their distance.
It’s advice Wagner will take to heart to protect her little dogs.
Walter said the DNR will intervene only if the bear becomes disruptive.
To avoid coming into contact with a black bear, the DNR encourages you to remove anything outdoors that could possibly attract it, including dog bowls, open garbage containers and bird feeders.