Local News

Bear spotted at Durham hospital

Posted June 28, 2009 8:39 a.m. EDT
Updated June 28, 2009 10:31 p.m. EDT

— A man says that he and his wife had a close encounter with a bear while taking their newborn baby home from Durham Regional Hospital shortly before midnight Friday.

The sightings came as Durham animal control officers, police officials and residents have reported seeing a bear wandering around neighborhoods and near stores since Thursday.

Steve Jones, a Triangle blogger, shared a picture he took Saturday night of a bear in a wooded area Edison Johnson Rec Center, on Murray Avenue, and the hospital, at 3643 N. Roxboro St.

Jim Yuill said that his family had just gotten into their vehicle Friday night when they saw what he thought was a person in a bear suit bounding towards them in the hospital parking lot. As it moved closer, Yuill said, he quickly realized it was a real bear.

Yuill described the bear as "pretty good sized" and very muscular.

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

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

Wildlife officials say bear spotting do occur, 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.

Locations of bear sightings

View Bear sightings reported in a larger map

A Durham County Animal Control spokeswoman said they first got calls Thursday morning reporting a bear around Berini Drive and Cole Mill Road. A WRAL viewer said he saw the bear at 3720 Shocceree Drive. Another viewer wrote that a large black bear came up to the back door of an elderly couple's house.

Durham resident Jan Orendorff also spotted a bear 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.

On Friday, a viewer wrote that officer workers saw a bear looking into a window at 2726 Croasdaile Drive around 2:30 p.m., that then ran toward a nearby shopping center. A short time later, the manager of a UPS store, at 1821 Hillandale Road, says that a little bear came up to the store and bumped into the door.

Also on Friday, Durham police reported another sighting of the bear at Duke and Leon streets Friday. A viewer said the bear was also seen at 906 Hudson Ave.

Steve Jones, a Triangle blogger, shared a photo he took Saturday night of a bear in a wooded area Edison Johnson Rec Center, on Murray Avenue, and the hospital, at 3643 N. Roxboro St.

Anna and Andrew Mosie also shared a photo after they said they spotted a bear Sunday afternoon in their backyard at 213 Vanderbilt Court.

Last May and June saw a string of bear sightings in urbanized areas from Fort Bragg and Moore County to Wake, Durham and Granville 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.

Authorities urge residents to not panic if they see a bear and to not approach them. Call your local law enforcement agency or the Wildlife Commission.

“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.