A sleuth of black bears has occupied the premises of Dia:Beacon in New York’s Hudson Valley, local police said. Park rangers spotted the bears loitering in Dia’s galleries and gardens yesterday, March 31, as the museum remains closed due to the ongoing pandemic.
“We’ve identified about 16 black bears in and around the building,” park ranger Christopher Robin told Hyperallergic. “We’re trying to carefully evacuate them from the area.”
Robin added that the bears, some more than six-feet-tall, were seen grazing on the grass and bushes of the museum’s famous Robert Irwin gardens. Their cubs were found frolicking around sculptures by Richard Serra and Donald Judd.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” the ranger said. “Wildlife is staking its claim in our absence.”
Black bears are native to the region surrounding Beacon in upstate New York. Although they are perceived as dangerous, they are in fact discreet animals that tend to avoid human contact. Black bears are omnivores and largely consume grass, berries, fruit, and insects. But they will also eat human food like seeds, honey, and corn.
“If you see a bear, stay clear of it and don’t leave any food behind,” Robin instructed. “But if it attacks you for some reason, try to scare it off by carrying a big stick and shouting loudly at it,” he said, adding that black bears are meek in comparison to the more aggressive brown bears. In the case of encountering a brown bear, the best strategy is to “play dead,” according to Robin.
“Whatever you do, don’t run!” he urged.
Meanwhile, the bear invasion might cause an insurance nightmare for the Dia Art Foundation. “So far, the bears seem to have been respectful of the art,” a spokesperson for the foundation told Hyperallergic in an email. “We are working closely with the police and local park authorities to reclaim the building without causing harm to the animals.”
This is not the first time black bears have been spotted in residential areas in the Hudson Valley. Back in January, locals reported that they’ve seen bears at their front door. Similar incidents have occurred throughout the years.
“There’s no reason to panic over this, we have bigger fish to fry these days,” Robin assured Hyperallergic. “Folks should take this as just another reminder to stay home.”