About A Bear…

By NJ Clausen

It was a beautiful Saturday morning, nice and early, and the perfect time to walk before the sun made it too hot and uncomfortable. Following my usual route, I was surprised to see a neighbor standing in the road—cigarette in one hand, coffee cup in the other and a weapon on his hip.

“You might not want to go this way today,” he said. “A black bear cub was here earlier, looking in trash cans and going through yards.” My first response was, “If there is a baby, there is a mama bear around somewhere.” My next thought was about how to let people know to be cautious, so I asked if the police had been notified. He replied that they had been called about a half hour before, but no one had come through. As I had no desire to have a personal encounter with a bear, I turned and walked a different way.

While walking, I realized that this was definitely outside of my area of expertise, so I returned home to grab my keys, wallet and water and went to the Kernersville Police Department. Upon entering and engaging the intercom system, I asked if anyone would be going to the area where the bear was seen. I was informed that the matter had been referred to Animal Control. When I inquired how the residents of the area were to be advised, it was suggested through the Nextdoor App or neighborhood groups. Not being a big social media person, there must have been a questioning look on my face as the number for the Animal Services Division was provided. A call to the number connected me with a responder who informed me that bears are being tracked. Upon requesting more information, I was asked to provide my name and number, and I would be called back.

Surprisingly, Lt. Davenport with the Sheriff’s Office/Animal Services Division called back within 30 minutes. He was kind enough to explain that bears are wildlife, and unless rabid or actively aggressive, like the less threatening racoons, deer, etc., they are left alone. Lt. Davenport did educate me with the information that cubs from the year before are often sent off by the parent to make room for a new litter (usually only one or two). This meant it was possible that there was not a mama bear nearby.
As bear sightings are very rare in our community, I inquired as to what would be best to do if someone encounters one. He gave the following tips for the proper procedure to follow:

1) Do NOT engage the bear—keep a safe distance, then go in the opposite direction.

2) When accidentally coming in the vicinity of a bear, make a slight noise to not startle the bear then go in the opposite direction.

3) If the bear does not move on, contact the police who will contact Animal Services.

Lt. Davenport added that black bears would want to stay away from humans and are generally looking for food. It is a good idea to secure trash and be aware of other things that would be attractive to bears, such as bird feeders. Try not to leave things out overnight that would attract them as well.

Thankfully, we do not have a bear population in Kernersville that we need to worry about, but it is good to be alert while out and about. You never know when you will have a wildlife encounter! For more information on North Carolina Wildlife go to www.ncwildlife.org.

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