banner
Pets

Go west, young bear

Posted May 23, 2011

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— Bear sightings continued across the Triangle on Monday, with a black bear cutting through morning traffic in Durham and a bear later romping across a Chapel Hill golf course.

Greg Batts, a biologist with the state Wildlife Resources Commission, said it's impossible to know whether the sightings – they started last Wednesday in Garner and have continued through Raleigh on Thursday and Cary on Saturday – are the same animal or not.

Johan Meurling shot a quick video on his way to work near Interstate 40 and N.C. Highway 751 in Durham as a bear crossed the road and headed into some nearby woods. Bernadette Tillman said the same bear streaked in front of her car as she was on N.C. Highway 54 headed to Chapel Hill.

"My eyes got big, (and) my mouth dropped open," Tillman said. "I've seen bears at the zoo but not running in front of my car."

Later, people spotted a bear at Finley Golf Course and the North Carolina Botanical Garden, both near the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

"I turned and looked and saw this black, fuzzy thing going down the pathway," said Beckie Norris, who was with friend Barbara Sirucek at the botanical garden. "I looked at her and said, 'Did you see the bear?' and she said, 'Nope. A bear?!' and I said, 'Yeah.'"

The bear left a paw print in the mud to confirm its visit.

Bear paw print in mud Bears head west across Triangle

Batts said the bear or bears could have followed rivers south from Virginia or could have come from North Carolina's coast or mountains.

June is breeding season for the animals, he said, and it's also the time of year when mother bears kick young males out of the den and force them to find their own range. Male bears have ranges of about 70 square miles and can travel 10 to 12 miles a day, he said.

Ben Hess, mammal collections manager at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, said the animals are most likely passing through looking for food and mates.

"You’re only going to have a bear moving through in the central part of the state because the best resources for bears are really on the coast and in the mountains," Hess said.

Bear sightings


View Triangle bear sightings in a larger map
10 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • mjgdeux May 24, 2011

    Bears have been steadily expanding their population - and their range - for over 30 years in this state. There are probably 3 times more bears in this state now than there were in 1980.

    If one goes to the NC Wildlife Resources website - you can see a good map of the bear range in this state. It illustrates how much ground bears have gained over the recent decades:
    http://www.ncwildlife.org/Wildlife_Species_Con/images/bear_dist_map.pdf

  • mmtlash May 24, 2011

    As long as people don't go running up to the bears snapping pictures with their phones (which seems to have become the automatic impulse in youth nowadays) folks will be alright

  • 27615 May 24, 2011

    Black bears are nothing to worry to about

  • skyyekatfromafar May 24, 2011

    You have hit it spot on, 'Call It Like I See It' . . we tend to think of them as being in "our space" when it's really a matter of US being in their spaces. Yes, the fires are probably a contributing factor for the multiple sightings but overall it's really an issue of wildlife running out of 'running room' and they are coming back to what was theirs in the first place. So, people get used to it!!

  • ncmickey May 24, 2011

    Increase of bear population = Increase in sightings

    Calm down people. The bears dont like you either. They are moving through....

  • Call It Like I See It May 24, 2011

    Poor things have no where to go... we continue to tear down their habitat and food sources, they don't want to be in residential areas anymore than other people want them there, they just simply have no where to go, it's sad.

  • dorindarindy May 23, 2011

    So many people know nothing about wildlife or our planet. Amazing. I just hope the bear or bears do not get hit. They are confused and trying to find a safe habitat, but that could never be around here, that's for sure.

  • mynameisBOCEPHUS May 23, 2011

    yeah, must be al gore's global warming causing the sea levels to rise... HAHAHAHAHA!

  • SaltlifeLady May 23, 2011

    Another scientist said last week these bears move slow and only travel about a mile a day so that the bear seen in Garner could not have been the bear they saw in Raleigh. Which is it? 1 mile a day, or 10-12 miles a day? Do the wild fires on the coast last week have anything to do with this migration into the piedmont area?

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman May 23, 2011

    "Ben Hess, mammal collections manager at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, said the animals are most likely passing through looking for food and mates.

    "You’re only going to have a bear moving through in the central part of the state because the best resources for bears are really on the coast and in the mountains," Hess said."

    Not a sufficient explanation in my mind. They had all those things where they were (presumably the eastern part of the state). Why did they leave there to travel 100-200 maybe 300 miles elsewhere?

    Are they really running from something in the eastern part of the state???

    Just a thought!