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Bear killed on I-85 in Orange County

North Carolina DOT officials said they removed the remains of a small black bear from Interstate 85 near Hillsborough Monday morning.

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HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — North Carolina Department of Transportation officials have removed the remains of a small black bear from Interstate 85 near Hillsborough.

DOT authorities said Monday that they believe a tractor-trailer or other large vehicle struck the bear, found near Lawrence Road. No vehicle fragments were found near the bear, and traffic was not affected.

It wasn't clear if the dead bear was the same one that Durham animal control officers, police officials and residents have reported seeing wandering around neighborhoods and near stores since Thursday.

Wildlife officials say bear spotting do occur in the region, but are not common.

"We have had in the past few years, in the Durham County area alone, probably three sightings,” said Michael Edmiston, with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

Bear sightings reported in Durham

Anna and Andrew Mosie reported seeing a bear in their back yard Sunday afternoon at 213 Vanderbilt Court.

Earlier in the weekend, several people reported seeing a bear in the vicinity of Durham Regional Hospital, at 3643 N. Roxboro St.

James Yuill said he and his wife had a close encounter with a bear while taking their newborn baby home from the hospital shortly before midnight Friday. They had gotten into their vehicle when he saw what he thought was a bear suit bounding toward them across the parking lot.

As it moved closer, Yuill said, he quickly realized it was a real bear, "pretty good sized" and very muscular.

He and another woman in the parking lot called hospital security and 911.

“I didn't know there were bears in this part of North Carolina, much less downtown Durham,” Yuill said.

Steve Jones, a Triangle blogger, took a photo Saturday night of a bear in a wooded area Edison Johnson Rec Center, on Murray Avenue, and the hospital.

A Durham County Animal Control spokeswoman said they first received reports Thursday of a bear around Berini Drive and Cole Mill Road.

Jan Orendorff said she spotted a bear having a snack from her bird feeder Thursday.

“He stood up as high as the shepherd’s hook and just pulled it (a bird feeder) right over. He then laid down and enjoyed his feast,” Orendorff said.

Orendorff said the bear stayed in her yard for about 20 minutes and then walked back into the woods.

Also on Thursday, a WRAL.com visitor reported seeing a bear at 3720 Shoccoree Drive, off Cole Mill Road, and another visitor reported seeing a large black bear near the back door of a house.

On Friday, a visitor reported a sighting of a bear looking into a window at 2726 Croasdaile Drive around 2:30 p.m.. It then ran toward a nearby shopping center, the visitor told WRAL News in an e-mail.

A short time later, the manager of a UPS store, at 1821 Hillandale Road, reported a little bear bumping into the store's door.

Also on Friday, Durham police reported another sighting of the bear at Duke and Leon streets Friday. A visitor told WRAL News that the bear was also seen at 906 Hudson Ave.

A string of bear sightings were reported last May and June in urbanized area, including Cumberland, Durham, Granville, Moore and Wake counties.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission's Web site reports that the black-bear population has thrived, particularly along the coast. Biologists say the bears can roam far in search of food and empty territory.

Wildlife experts advise anyone who sees a bear to call their local law enforcement agency or the wildlife commission and not to panic or approach it.

“Just keep some distance and enjoy the moment, because you are likely not to encounter a bear in this part of the state,” Edmiston said.

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Erin Coleman, Reporter
Greg Hutchinson, Photographer
Anne Johnson, Web Editor
Kelly Hinchcliffe, Web Editor

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