A young bear roaming through the Royal Lane area is being watched by Animal Control officials, who are hoping its visit to the neighborhood will end soon.
According to reports, a black bear was spotted Wednesday afternoon at Royal Lane Park and later climbed up a tree on Hall Street. The stretch of road was closed and residents were advised to stay in their homes. Officials reported that a call was made before 1 p.m. Wednesday for the bear, estimated to be 1 to 2 years old and weighing approximately 100 pounds.
Jamaal Faison of the Clinton Police Department’s (CPD) Animal Control division responded with other officers.
“He was also spotted running through the park earlier today,” Faison said. “We lost sight of him and couple of hours later we found him up here.”
Matthew Parrish, a wildlife enforcement officer from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), was called to assist the CPD and the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office.
“It’s not anything to be alarmed about,” Parrish said Wednesday afternoon about the frightened bear, who was found asleep in the tree at times.
Parrish said it was a case of a mother bear running off a younger bear, which is common during this time of year, since the parent is trying to attract a new male mate. After awhile, the bears gain confidence to live on their own.
“The bear is not trying to attack you,” Parrish said. “Mama ran him off, and he or she is just trying to find a place to live.”
When the bear was monitored Wednesday afternoon, the goal was to wait until it was dark for him to leave and be on his own.
“Once that happens, it shouldn’t be no problems,” Parrish said. “A lot of times, the problem is that people come around and want to take pictures and they want to see him. He’s not going to come down here if you’re down here.”
Officials checked Thursday morning and the bear was gone, but came back around noon. As of Thursday afternoon, it was spotted one block away on Ellen Street. Parrish said cars and people are probably scaring him, which is delaying his return to the wild. According to Clinton City Manager Tom Hart, state officials made their way to the city to find a long-term solution.
“Normally, when we get these calls, (the bear) is usually is in someone’s backyard,” Parrish said. “People can leave him alone and he’ll be gone. But the the problem is houses all around here.”
With a lot of houses in the area, Sgt. Jessica Kittrell and Ray Draughon of the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control, added that smell of food left outside will bring bears to a particular area. In addition to keeping a safe distance, officials advised residents not to leave scraps or food out in the backyard.
“Don’t make your home appealing to wildlife,” Kittrell said. “If you’re feeding your pet outside, make sure you can feed them what they eat and take any excess up. Anything extra that they’re smelling, that’s making your house appealing — that’s how you attract wildlife.”
Along with bears, she mentioned foxes, possums and raccoons. It was mentioned that homeowners should monitor bird feeders as well. During the matter, Animal Control officials emphasized safety and following the proper steps in coexisting together during black bear interactions, which are rising across the state.
“They’re native to Eastern North Carolina and there’s a whole lot more around here than people know,” Parrish said. “They’re everywhere. You probably don’t know it, but they’re probably in the woods behind your house.”
Additional information is available online though the NCWRC website at www.ncwildlife.org/Learning/Species/Mammals/Black-Bear. Facts and tips on preventing problems with black bears is available online at www.bit.ly/1rlYR8l
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.