"Next thing you know, we heard a rustling in the bushes," said Jessica Ashe, a North Canton resident. "We looked, and there was a very large black bear.”
Ashe said the bear spent 12 hours in her backyard Thursday. When wildlife officials showed up to try to move him out, he wandered away and was later spotted at a Sheetz gas station in Canton and a middle school.
“I was within 10 feet of this bear yesterday, and he didn’t really have a care in the world," said Allen Lea of the ODNR.
Lea stressed that black bears are normally harmless to humans unless taunted by them. He urged residents in the area to take their bird feeders and animal treats inside as bears are looking for food.
Lea also said they are looking for a mate at this time of year.
"This is the breeding season, and they travel into Ohio from Pennsylvania, and they are looking for females," he added.
But Lea said female bears are not easily found in Ohio. His hope is that the male bear makes its way back to Pennsylvania soon.
"Right now, I'm just monitoring," he added. "We are not sure where the bear went. He could still be in this vicinity, or he could be miles away from here by now."
As a precaution, students at Orchard Hill Intermediate School in North Canton stayed inside for recess Friday. The school is located next to the golf course where the bear was last seen.
If ODNR officials spot the bear, they said their goal is to monitor it, keep people nearby calm and try to get the bear to keep moving.
Anyone who spots the bear is encouraged to call ODNR or their local police department.