Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
Salisbury Post
A 275-pound black bear caused quite a stir Sunday evening as it checked out areas south of Jake Alexander Boulevard.
Salisbury Police responded to several calls reporting a bear sighting starting in late afternoon on Airport Road.
Police and wildlife officers believe the bear will move out of the area and head for rural parts.
Shortly before 6 p.m. a homeowner on Rowan Mills Road off South Main Street called 911 to report a bear in his back yard.
Salisbury Police Sgt. K.C. Wilborn and two other officers responded but found no bear.
An hour or so later, a caller reported a bear behind the Food Lion store at 525 Jake Alexander Boulevard. Around the same time, another caller reported the bear in back of an apartment complex off Sunset Drive.
When an officer responded to the Sunset Drive call, he saw a bear, initially estimated to weigh around 200 pounds, standing behind the Classic Customs building near the apartment complex.
“The bear looked up and took off running across the road,” Wilborn said. “He went into a patch of woods next to the State Employees Credit Union.”
Police have video of the bear’s quick departure.
As Wilborn responded to questions about the bear by telephone, a resident of the area stopped by to ask what was going on.
“There’s a bear around,” Wilborn said.
“Get out of here; a bear,” the man responded.
Sgt. Wilborn offered this advice: stay inside and don’t feed the bear.
An hour or so later, after a close encounter with the bear, police increased the weight estimate.
Wilborn and other officers walked into a wooded area near the State Employees Credit Union and Kentucky Fried Chicken. They came face-to-face with the bear, which was busily eating a baby deer.
“It was a whole lot bigger” than originally thought, Wilborn said. He revised the estimate from 200 pounds to 275 pounds.
Officers got within about 30 yards of the bear.
“It looked at us, then got up and walked off,” leaving the deer carcass, Wilborn said. “It wasn’t aggressive.”
Police planned to monitor the bear’s movements and try to keep it out of traffic and out of any tangle with residents or their pets.
“We talked to wildlife officers and there is not a whole lot we can do,” Wilborn said. “We’re not going to shoot it.”
Police are asking people to refrain from feeding the bear and to secure their garbage.
If it finds food, it may opt to stay around.
The bear sighting in Salisbury is one of several over the past two weeks in the Piedmont.
People reported seeing one or more bears around Davidson on Saturday morning. Last week, officials in Hickory closed an elementary school when a bear was spotted nearby.
According to published reports, experts theorize that the Easter weekend freeze killed some food sources for the bears, and the animals are foraging into more populated areas in search of something to eat.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or