Local News

Bear in tree becomes main attraction in Hope Mills neighborhood

Posted June 23, 2016 4:46 p.m. EDT
Updated June 23, 2016 5:27 p.m. EDT

— Residents of a Hope Mills neighborhood are becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of a black bear that took up residence in a tree this week and hasn’t left.

The bear has remained in an oak tree behind an abandoned home on Quaker Court for three days. Wildlife experts said the bear will eventually come down, likely at night, but in the meantime, it’s become both an attraction and a cause for worry.

Some parents are concerned about the children who live and play outside in the neighborhood, but the bigger concern among residents is for the bear.

“At first, I was [worried]. When I very first saw him, I was kind of scared…because my kids play outside every day,” said neighbor Shenika Robinson.

The bear has been seen panting in the hot weather, and a neighbor has even left a bowl of water in the yard for the animal.

"I feel like even if you can't remove him, then at least somebody [should] come out here and check on him. He's been up there a few days; he really hasn't eaten or drunk anything," Robinson said.

Ben Rains of Cape Fear Wildlife Control said the bear likely wandered into a residential area looking for food, but ran up the tree to avoid dogs. He said, if residents can keep their dogs inside overnight, the bear will probably climb down and wander away.

“The reason they’re here is because their food supply is limited because berries in the forest don’t ripen until July,” Rains said. "They are attracted by people's trash and then dogs chase them up a tree."

For the time being, curiosity-seekers have been showing up on Quaker Court to see the bear for themselves.

“In the last three days, it’s been an experience just to sit and watch the people come, and some of them come a couple of times a day,” said neighbor John Smith.

Only a state wildlife commission biologist has the authority to remove a wild protected animal such as a bear. Local animal control has no jurisdiction.

Quaker Court is 4½ miles from a neighborhood where another black bear was spotted in a tree nearly three weeks ago. That bear left without incident.

Wildlife officials said the black bear population has increased tenfold in North Carolina in the past 30 years, with a statewide population of about 20,000.