Black bear spotting reported in Middleton

MIDDLETON, Wis. — Authorities are investigating after getting a report of a black bear sighting near Middleton Beach Road.

The Middleton Police Department issued an alert Wednesday morning saying the juvenile black bear, which is estimated to be 150 to 200 pounds, was last seen near Middleton Beach Road. Officials said they found bear footprints leading into a wooded area between Middleton Beach Road and Allen Boulevard.

Middleton resident Jodi Anderson-Selsor said she saw the bear run through her neighbor’s yard around 6 a.m.

“I look over to my right and I see a black bear running through the yard two houses over,” Anderson-Selsor said. “Right where the red garage is is my neighbor Jeff. He was standing right there and the bear ran right in front of him. I was in absolute disbelief.”

The bear may have entered Lake Mendota and swam away from the shore, according to another report.

DNR Wildlife Biologist Julie Widholm said it is not uncommon to hear of bear sightings on the western part of Dane County but Middleton was a bit unusual.

“It’s a little more urban,” Widholm said. “Our Warden and USDA Wildlife services staff went out there to assess the situation basically just wanted to avoid the bear being in a situation where it’s cornered and doesn’t have a way out.”

Wisconsin’s bear population has grown a lot since the late-80s when the state believes there were about 9,000 black bears living in Wisconsin. There are now more than 20,000.

The DNR guesses that this young male spotted in Middleton was searching for food or new territory.

“It’s done nothing to suggest it’s aggressive so we just want to avoid any close interactions and we’re just hoping the bear will move on on it’s own,” Widholm said.

According to the DNR’s website, “Due to a growing population, bears are becoming much more common in the lower two-thirds of the state than ever before.”

DNR officials said anyone who spots the bear should leave it alone. They believe the bear will likely move on from the area as night approaches.

Anyone who spots the bear can report it to the DNR by calling 1-888-936-7463.