Bear sighted in city

Clinton police and animal control officers have been on the lookout for a small bear, sighted in the Byrd and McKoy street areas of the city early Monday morning. At press time, officers had not laid eyes on the animal, but residents in the area say they have seen it roaming the area.

One resident delivered a grainy photo to The Sampson Independent offices today, one that clearly showed the bear in the McKoy Street area. That sighting, she said, asking that we not use her name, occurred around 5:50 a.m. when a neighbor went outside her home and saw the animal.

“She didn’t get real close, but she was able to take this photo,” the woman noted.

Police Chief Jay Tilley confirmed that there had been a couple reports of bear sightings in those areas Monday.

“Everyone is saying it’s a bear,” Tilley said. “We have looked around the area, but so far our officers haven’t spotted the bear.

Tilley said the bear had not approached anyone and appeared to be avoiding people entirely. But that doesn’t mean, he cautioned, that anyone should attempt to get close to it either.

“Even though the bear appears to be avoiding people and would likely run away if it saw someone, we don’t advise anyone trying to approach the bear. It is, after all, a wild animal,” the police chief said.

Tilley has contacted N.C. Wildlife, a step necessary in the sighting of a wild animal.

This isn’t the first wild animal to be spotted lately in Clinton. Officers, Tilley said, have also being dealing with calls regarding at least one fox in the city limits.

“We have had a rash of calls lately about animals,” the chief noted. “My guess is with the construction going on out on (N.C.) 24, with their habitat being upset and destroyed, they are looking for other places. That seems to be one reason why residents are spotting so many animals.”

Anyone who spots a bear or any other wild animal, Tilley said, is urged to call the Police Department at 910-592-3105, or 911, immediately.