The animals are most often searching for food, one wildlife expert explained, and are probably not interested in pestering humans.
In the fall, a black bear’s main food source is acorns, and the animals will become more drawn to an area that can offer the nuts, said David Gregory, wildlife biologist for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for Gordon County. This is a normal feeding pattern, but directly feeding the bears is unnatural and will create problems, he said.
Gregory said there is usually not an overt danger for people when a bear appears in a residential area.
“If a bear is in your yard, typically they are searching for food,” said Gregory. “There is nothing to worry about.”
Gregory said the biggest defense in keeping bears off residential property is not feeding them or making food easy for the animals to obtain.
“What a bear looks for is availability to food; the more he gets, the more he will keep coming back,” said Gregory.
The most dangerous type of bear is one that has come accustom to people and human food, according to Georgia State Parks’ website, gastateparks.org.
Gregory also said residents should make sure to secure trash cans, pet food and bird feeders, as those are big draws for bears.
“Getting into a trash can is nothing for a bear,” he said. “Make sure your trash is stored inside, such as in the garage.”
If a bear is in the area and is a threat to public safety, Gregory said, do not hesitate to call DNR, but as long as residents are not making food available to the bears, this should not be an issue.
Local bear sightings:
Bill Rice, a resident of the Sugar Valley area, said in his neighborhood, black bear sightings have been abundant.
Rice said his neighbors have reported seeing bears in their yards, and he heard two in his backyard recently.
“We’ve have been hearing about them in this area for about a month or so,” he said. “I’ve been told that this time of year they are coming down into the populated areas to get food.”
Rice said the bears appear to be lost and hopes the animals stay in the mountains.
“It’s a beautiful animal as long as it’s in the proper place, and the proper place is not my backyard,” he said.
Bear safety essentials
According to the Department of Natural Resources:
- Walk, never run away from a bear
- Respect the bear’s space
- Never feed a bear
- Do not approach a bear
- If a bear is approaching, try yelling to scare the bear off
- Go indoors if a bear is spotted close by
- Bears can move quickly
- Hunters can kill bears, but some stipulations are involved.
Georgia is still in archery season for bears (Sept. 10 – Oct. 14), which means bears can only be killed with a bow and arrow or crossbow during this time, explained David Gregory, wildlife biologist for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for Gordon County. Hunters must also have a hunting license and a big game license, and can kill no more than two per season. The size of the bear must be greater than 75 pounds and a female bear that has cubs with her cannot legally be killed, according to Gregory.