Bear sighting creates stir in Garner
Posted May 18, 2011
Garner, N.C. — A black bear spotted multiple times in Garner Wednesday morning created a stir at local schools and neighborhoods.
"I was surprised, because you don't usually hear tell of bears around here," said Lenwood Hunt, who lives near Garner Magnet High School where the bear was spotted.
Police who saw the animal said it appeared to be an adult black bear, about 4 feet tall when walking on all four legs. They said it didn't appear to be aggressive but urged people to leave it alone.
"I'm guessing (it weighed) about 200 pounds. It wasn't no Boo-Boo Bear, by any means," said Clint Ferrell, referring to the animated Yogi Bear's smaller friend.
Police said they believe the bear lives in a wooded area along Old Stage Road, near Hall Boulevard, and was trying to head back there after wandering away.
Animal Control, wildlife and police officers were keeping tabs on the bear but weren't planning on chasing or capturing it.
The bear was most recently seen at Garner Magnet High. It walked along a fence surrounding the football and baseball practice fields, then headed west.
Ferrell went to Garner Magnet High after his wife, who is a teacher at the school, texted him that they were under lockdown. He said he got within 30 feet of the bear.
"(It was) very peaceful. Just sat there looking at me," Ferrell said. "I pulled my phone out to try and take video of it, and Garner police came around the corner. The bear got spooked and ran down the fence toward the high school."
Raleigh Animal Control officers first got several calls about a bear near Woodland and Kelly roads around 8 a.m. About a half-hour later, Garner police got calls about a bear in the woods near Hall Boulevard.
Officers spotted the bear themselves, then called state wildlife officers and notified nearby residents by phone.
Students were kept inside Garner Magnet High, and at one point, Timber Drive and Vandora Springs elementary schools were under a Code Yellow lockdown, meaning that all exit doors were locked but classes continued, Wake County schools spokesman Greg Thomas said. Vandora Springs Elementary held recesses indoors.
Vandora Springs Principal Troy Peuler said the alert about the bear went out just as school was starting. Children had to stay on buses and in cars until police were sure the bear was out of the area.
"By the time the bear was out of the vicinity, we felt comfortable bringing the kids in. It did not disrupt the day, and hopefully students stayed focused on EOGs (end-of-grade tests) and did well," Peuler said.
The school has had encounters with more typical wildlife, like deer, but this bear was a first, the principal said.
"We've had a deer break through our front doors and windows – and that was a surprise – but never had a black bear in this area or this close to campus," Peuler said. "It was more of a surprise than anything."