County residents urged to avoid transient bears
by Jason Lowrey
May 15, 2014 | 1778 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With spring moving into summer, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is reminding state residents to avoid contact with bears that may be roaming the state in search of a home.

Called transient bears, according to a DNR press release, the bears are looking for their own territory after leaving their mother’s protection. If left alone, the release continues, the bears ordinarily return to established bear ranges, such as the north Georgia mountains.

“They can be a nuisance, getting in trash and stuff, but if you keep your trash and pet food up and more than likely they’ll move on,” said Ranger First Class Zachary Hardy of DNR’s Law Enforcement Division, Region I.

“... The bears, I would say are more afraid of us than we are of them, in reality. But the only danger a bear will cause is if you get between a momma and her cubs. That may cause some tension there. But if it’s just one bear, it shouldn’t cause any danger.”

Bears may move into urban areas in search of food, according to the release. If the bears discovered food sources, some may have spent the winter in suburban areas and awake in spring to what they now call home.

Residents are urged to leave the bears alone and to not feed the bears. If bears are frequent in an area, the release continued, residents should keep pet food indoors and take down all bird feeders between April and November. Ways to secure household garbage include removing food scraps from grills and fire pits daily, rinsing food cans and wrappers before disposal and converting to bear-proof garbage cans or securing the garbage in an enclosed area.

Other DNR tips on how to respond to a bear include:

• Stay a safe distance away.

• Never, under any circumstances, intentionally feed a bear.

• Never attempt to tree or corner a bear, as it compromises the safety of both the public and the bear.

Hardy said residents should call DNR if a bear has become a common problem.

“Most of the time if they have any problems with bears being a nuisance, they need to contact the DNR Game Management Office. Sometimes if the bear is causing a lot of nuisance, repeated nuisance, they’ll come out and try and trap the bear to relocate it to a different area,” he said.

So far this year, Hardy said, he was not aware of a bear being trapped in Bartow County.

For more information on bears in Georgia, visit www.georgiawildlife.com.