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Mahopac Woman Spots Bear At Steakhouse

A black bear checks out the dumpster at the Amenia Restaurant on Route 44 looking for dinner.
A black bear checks out the dumpster at the Amenia Restaurant on Route 44 looking for dinner. Photo Credit: Amenia Restaurant/Facebook/Jenn Najdek

A Mahopac woman got the greeting of her life when she went to meet her family for dinner at the Amenia Steakhouse and was met by a bear digging through a dumpster instead, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Michelle DeKleine told the Journal she pulled into the parking lot around 4:30 p.m., Sunday and saw the bear digging through the restaurant's dumpsters.

She said the bear was pulling out food and eating it and eventually pulled out a bag and strolled into the woods to have his dinner in peace, the Journal said.

The group informed the restaurant staff, the Journal said, who told them the bear, and a smaller one had visited before but didn't bother customers.

Apparently that's true. Jenn Najdek, of Millerton, visited the restaurant in August and also found the bear in the dumpster

"It did not approach us- just stared at us for a bit, climbed back in the dumpster and continued to eat outta the dumpster," she said.

Budd Veverka, preserve manager/staff biologist for the Mianus River Gorge Preserve in Northern Westchester, says bears are drawn to any areas that have accessible food such as dumpsters, garbage cans, and bird feeders.

Once they establish a spot such as a restaurant or home, they will keep returning until the food source is taken away.

The group warns never to approach bears, but if they are in yards or dumpsters the best way to get rid of them is to bang pots together. That sound startles them and they will usually not return to the area.

Of course, Veverka adds, if a bear is an extreme problem and threatens any residents, the authorities should be called so the bear can be removed.

Ways to stop the bears from coming eat are pretty easy, he adds.

Don't leave out open garbage cans or dog food outside. And only leave out a bird feeder from Dec. 1 to April 1, he says because bird feed seems to be the black bear's favorite food of choice. Bears will go to great lengths to get to any feeder that is lower than 7-feet above the ground.

Residents can report their bear sighting by email at H2Hbears@gmail.com or at one of the apps the organization works with including www.inaturalist.org/projects/hudson-to-housatonic-bears or www.iseemammals.org .

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