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A black bear similar to this one has been spotted several times recently near Route 128.

The North Shore is fast becoming the Wild Kingdom.

Let us count the creatures that have crossed our paths in recent months. There are coyotes, fishers, eagles, wild turkeys, turkey vultures, beavers, and, of course, the ever-present deer, foxes, skunks and raccoons.

Add one more to the list.

A black bear was spotted in Lynnfield, a small town that borders Peabody. That’s right, bear — as in Smokey the Bear.

And not just one sighting. Several.

“There’s been quite a few (calls) the last couple months,” said Shy Peterson, a Lynnfield police dispatcher. “One guy called and said the bear was in his backyard. He said it stood up and ... was taller than him.”

John Costas saw a black bear behind his Lynnfield home last week. It was about 10 p.m., he said, and the bear was trying to knock bird feeders off a wire that runs from a tree to a gutter on the house.

“He was up on his hind legs and was swinging his paws at the wire and trying to go for the feeders,” Costas said. “He was very broad across the back and jet black.”

As soon as they flicked on a spotlight, the bear rumbled off into nearby woods that run along a power line.

The Lynnfield bear has been seen less than a half-mile from Route 128 — which is getting close to Greater Boston.

“That’s fairly unusual,” said Marion Larson, information and education biologist for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Over the past few years, she said, “there have been bears seen in different parts of Essex County. I’m not sure we think there are bears living in the county. ... It’s possible this is a younger bear that’s trying to figure out where there is a good place to live. After their mother kicks them out, they can range anywhere from 50 to 100 square miles.”

“I think at this time of year they’re either moving through or just emerging from their dens,” said Jim Hennessey of the Massachusetts Environmental Police. He called a bear in this area of the North Shore a “rare sighting.”

The Lynnfield bear has been spotted along a power line and near Camp Curtis Guild, a U.S. Army outdoor firing range. Some residents have reported seeing the bear going into a swampy area along Chestnut Street, a road that leads from Lynnfield Center to North Reading, police said.

The black bear population has increased in Massachusetts, from about 100 in the early 1970s to 3,000 in 2005, according to MassWildlife. Most are in the western and cental part of the state. While males can grow to 600 pounds, in Massachusetts they average 230 pounds and females 140, the state agency said.

Black bears are not considered dangerous to humans but also are not animals that belong in a suburban neighborhood. Residents should make noise and scare them off, Larson said.

“There really is very little danger,” she said. “Bears are wild animals and have a natural wariness about people, and we should get them to continue to feel that natural wariness. If a bear gets the impression that nothing is going to disturb it, it will get the impression this is the place to be ... and that’s not good for bears, and that’s not good for people.”

Larson advised residents to stop feeding birds and put trash barrels inside.

“You should not have trash out at night,” she said. “All you’re doing is providing an all-you-can-eat buffet.”

Before they realized they had a bear, the Costas family had barrels knocked over and trash hauled into the woods. The night before the sighting, several bird feeders disappeared from the line without a trace.

“I’ve always wanted to see a bear,” Costas said. “(But) I never expected to see one in Massachusetts.”

Nor in his Lynnfield backyard.

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