By Jessie Burchette
What do you do if you see the black bear roaming through Rowan County?
“Count yourself lucky,” said Sgt. Anthony Sharum, a N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission officer. Few people will ever witness a black bear in the wild, he said.
There’s no need to lock up the children, hide the cats or fortify the doors.
“The danger to the public is minimal. If you ran up on it and try to catch it, it will protect itself,” said Sharum offering a few other bits of information:
– Black bears don’t go around looking to eat dogs. They generally avoid dogs.
– Bears very rarely attack livestock.
– Bears are more interested in easy meals ó fruit, vegetables and small mammals.
– If you don’t want it around, make sure you don’t throw out food scraps or leave bowls of dog or cat food outside.
Sharum and other wildlife officials don’t have any plans to tranquilize or capture the bear. They’re hoping it continues moving north without any incidents.
Officials believe the bear is a young male, the same bear spotted near Davidson late last week and at other locations near the Catawba River over the past couple of weeks.
Young males will apparently roam greater distances in search of a new territory once their mother kicks them out on their own.
“They’ll roam for a long time to find an area with good cover and habitat,” Sharum said.
Sharum and Bob Pendergrass, superintendent of the Nature and Learning Center at Dan Nichols Park, said young bears stay on the go almost 24 hours a day and can cover a lot of territory.
Pendergrass, who has spend a lot of time working with the park’s bears, agrees with Sharum there is little danger from the bear.
“Wild bears are terrified of people. The worst thing is to feed it. That’s dangerous,” Pendergrass said.
If anyone finds the bear in their backyard or field, just walk away.
Pendergrass cited the rapid growth of the bear population both in western and eastern North Carolina.
“Bears are coming back, they’re knocking on the door of Wake County,” Pendergrass said. “Iredell County has some in the western areas.”
He predicts that sightings will become a common thing in years ahead. “It’s exciting to see that wildlife is doing well and we can all coexist.”
For anyone tempted to get out a gun and go bear hunting, Wildlife officers point out that bears are a protected species. And there is no black bear season in Rowan County.
“Just because a black bear walks through your backyard is not sufficient grounds to shoot it,” Sharum said.
The last flurry of bear sighting was almost seven years ago.
Dozens of sighting were reported in Richfield, Rockwell and South Rowan .
By Jessie Burchette