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Bear killed on highway in Zebulon

Posted May 25, 2011 9:49 a.m. EDT
Updated May 25, 2011 7:12 p.m. EDT

— A bear found dead along U.S. Highway 64 in Zebulon early Wednesday was likely struck and killed by a vehicle overnight, police said.

A man driving along U.S. 64 East called 911 around 6:30 a.m. about the 125-pound, 2-year-old male bear near North Arendell Avenue, Lt. Robert Grossman said. North Carolina wildlife officers disposed of the carcass.

Police don't know who hit the bear but found part of a headlight at the scene. If identified, the driver wouldn't face charges.

Witnesses also called 911 around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday to report a bear running along the fence of property near U.S. 64, Grossman said. The bear was last seen running across the highway into the woods on the other side.

The bear was the talk of the town at Andrew's Barber Shop in Zebulon.

"I'm just curious how they are coming around or what's bringing them out," barber Andrew Armstrong said.

Mother bears kick young males out of the den in the late spring to avoid inbreeding, forcing them to find their own range, said Greg Batts, a biologist with the state Wildlife Resources Commission.

"That's what this bear has probably been doing, just been wandering around looking for a place to live," Batts said.

People at the Eclectic Intellectual coffee and food shop also wondered if the bear was the same one spotted roaming around Garner, Raleigh, Cary, Durham and Chapel Hill over the past week.

"I was trying to figure out if it's the same one or if it's a bunch of them," Eclectic Intellectual owner Sana Hussain said.

Batts said he has no way to know if the bear that died is the same one spotted elsewhere in the Triangle.

He does believe that a single bear was spotted in Garner, Raleigh and Cary. That animal might have come from Benson, where a bear was seen on May 16, and traveled parallel to Interstate 40. Other bears could have followed rivers south from Virginia or come from North Carolina's coast or mountains.

Young bears are always on the move this time of year, looking for food and mates, Batts said. Male bears have ranges of about 70 square miles and can travel 10 to 12 miles a day.

"This state is growing at a really fast pace, so there is just about nowhere they can go in central North Carolina that they don't run into a city or town," Batts said.

Wildlife officials said that anyone who sees a bear should leave it alone and call authorities to report it.

People in areas where bears have been seen should be careful about not leaving their trash out overnight. Instead, put the trash out the morning of the day it's picked up.

Bear sightings


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