PORTSMOUTH--Police are warning residents to be on the lookout for bears after several sightings this week.

Since Tuesday, police have received several calls in reference to bear sightings in several areas of the city. The areas include the 1100 block of Melvin Drive, I-164 Westbound, 4000 block of West Norfolk Road, 4200 block of Hatton Point Drive, Wild Duck Lane and Goose Bay Drive.

One sighting in the area of Melvin Drive described the bear as being very large and brown in color. The sightings of the bear in the other areas located in the Churchland section of the city, describe the bear as being between 300 and 400 pounds.

Police believe that the sightings in the Churchland area are the same bear. There is no indication from the sightings reported that the bears are aggressive, however police do warn that approaching a bear or any wild animal is not only dangerous, but can be deadly.

With the winter season fast approaching, police believe these bear sightings are due to the animals natural instinct to wander around looking for food.

The police are reminding residents that they can do several things to help keep bears or other wild animals from wandering onto, damaging or destroying their property. They should keep trashcans and other containers tightly closed and ensure that they throw away all garbage and food into the appropriate receptacles.

If you are a resident and have a dog, be sure to keep a close eye when walking or taking them outside. It is recommended the dog be kept on a leash at all times to kept from trying to run toward or investigate a bear or any other animal that they may see.

There are several things for residents to remember if they come into contact with a bear. First, try not to draw the animal's attention to your presence. Generally bears try to avoid humans. Gain a safe distance between you and the animal, leaving the area as safely and quickly as possible, but do not run. Never approach a bear at any time. If you come into close contact with a bear, remain calm and back away slowly and diagonally. Always remember to never run away from a bear. And lastly if you are in danger, call 911 immediately.

If a you have any questions you can contact Portsmouth Animal Control or the Portsmouth Police Department at 757-393-5300.

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