Local News

Fayetteville Police Defend Shooting of Black Bear

Posted June 4, 2000

— The 300- to 400-pound black bear that wandered into a mobile home park Saturday was spotted recently in a patch of forest along Langdon Street near Fayetteville State.

Wildlife officers believe the bear is staying close to creeks, trying to move toward the Cape Fear River.

Meanwhile, Fayetteville residents are still trying to understand why a police officer shot the bear when it was spotted last weekend.

Many people are asking why such drastic measures were taken, and why State Wildlife Officers were not on the scene.

Fayetteville police say they originally called Animal Control for help and found out the agency did not have jurisdiction.

Police then called State Wildlife Officers, who did have jurisdiction and were dispatched.

Crystal Williams, a resident of the West-area Mobile Home Park, says could not believe her eyes when she saw the bear in a tree right next to her mobile home.

The bear sat up in the tree for several hours, then police shot the bear as it started to come down.

"I don't think they should have killed the bear, it probably was scared," says Williams.

"I don't think it was out to hurt anybody," she says.

Police do not have tranquilizer guns. Wildlife officers do, but they were three hours away at the time of the incident.

The Wildlife Management Division chief says until officers could get there with a trap and tranquilizer gun, police were told to disperse onlookers, in the hopes that the bear would leave the area on his own.

But some residents continued to watch as the bear started moving. Its movement caused police to shoot.

"It being a wild animal in a metro environment, they felt the animal could cause harm to people in the area," says Capt. Tom Bergamine of the Fayetteville Police Department.

Some people want to know why police were not more forceful with residents to get them back in their homes, and whether that could have prevented them from taking aim.

"It's a hard decision," says resident Leonard Daniels. "I don't like to see anything killed that doesn't have to be, but there are kids in this neighborhood, so that makes a difference."

"He wasn't trying to attack anybody, [it was] just running to climb a tree," says Christy Maxey. Wildlife officers say they do not know how the bear wound up in the neighborhood.

As with any case where a gun is fired on duty, Fayetteville police will investigate to determine if the shooting was justified.

There are about 200 wildlife officers across the state. They are not on call after hours. Right now, there is no wildlife officer in Fayetteville because a position is open.

If you see the bear, do not approach it, just call police.


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