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Second bear spotted in Triangle

Posted May 19, 2011 12:10 p.m. EDT
Updated May 19, 2011 7:02 p.m. EDT

— For the second straight day, people have reported seeing a black bear roaming around the Triangle.

Someone flagged down a Wake County deputy shortly before 9 a.m. Thursday to report a bear in some woods near the Carolina Pines neighborhood, off South Saunders Street.

Animal Control officers and Raleigh police checked the report, but they decided to leave the animal alone since it was in the woods and not in the neighborhood itself.

"The bear (doesn't) bother me as long as he stays in the woods," said Tommy Howell, who was pumping gas at a station on South Saunders Street.

Chris Blair said the bear came out of the woods for a quick snack and a nap, near where he and co-worker Duane Forkey were mowing under billboards along nearby Interstate 40.

"For a while, it just lay down and bedded down and was eating on some berries," Blair said.

The two men watched the bear from about 25 feet away, taking pictures with a cellphone.

"There were a couple times she was coming at us and we backed off, but it's just she was probably curious just like us," Blair said. "When we weren't taking pictures, she was just trotting down the path."

The bear wasn't the same one seen Wednesday in Garner, about 4 miles away. Garner Magnet High School, Vandora Springs Elementary School and Timber Drive Elementary School were locked down for a while to keep students inside while the bear was nearby.

Witnesses said the Garner bear appeared to be a male black bear, about 4 feet tall when walking on all four legs and about 200 pounds. Experts said the Raleigh black bear was between 150 and 300 pounds and appeared to be a female.

"It's generally you won't see bears frequently in urban areas, but it's not abnormal," said Beth Gardner, an assistant professor of quantitative wildlife biology at North Carolina State University. "I think bears, especially this time of year and a little more into the summer, do disperse or look for food."

Black bears can usually be found near the coast and in the western North Carolina mountains, and it's rare that they are seen in the middle of the state, Gardner said.

"(It's) probably not a resident, not staying for a long time but definitely moving through," she said.

Blair said the opportunity to see a bear in the wild up close is something he will always remember.

"It wasn't scary. It was sort of exciting to see something like that in town," he said. "It's something I can tell my kids."

Neither bear appeared to be aggressive, authorities said, so they had no plans to chase or capture them. Still, they urged people to leave the animals alone.

Bear sightings


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