Local resident reports black bear sighting

Published 3:52 pm Monday, June 22, 2015

Jason Abraham received an unusual visit on his property June 19 from a black bear apparently looking for food. (Contributed Photo)

Jason Abraham received an unusual visit on his property June 19 from a black bear apparently looking for food. (Contributed Photo)

A Clanton man received an unusual visit on his property Friday night from a black bear looking for food.

“I had thrown some pot roast off the back of my balcony that morning thinking that the raccoons would clean it up, like they normally do,” Jason Abraham said. “I heard a noise around 7 p.m. and looked out and it was a black bear.”

Abraham used his cell phone to capture a video and photographs of the bear.

“I was pretty shocked that I was seeing a bear on my property,” Abraham said. “We have seen turkeys, deer, raccoons, rabbits and even a coyote, but we have never seen a bear.”

Abraham’s property is located near Walnut Creek in the Refuge Community, and he said he thinks the bear might have been following the route of the creek as a water source for relief from the heat.

“The bear first trotted away when I walked outside, and then he walked back to collect the remnants of the pot roast,” Abraham said. “He must have followed the aroma of the pot roast I threw out and walked down the creek bank until he found it.”

Abraham estimated the bear was between 250-300 pounds, and could have been about 5’11”.

Abraham reported the bear sighting on Monday morning to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

“I just hope people are alert, because I didn’t think there were bears in Chilton County,” Abraham said. “I know a lot of people in this county set their trash outside, and I hope people will just be more careful.”

Chris Cook, Supervising Wildlife Biologist for District III with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said it is not unusual to spot a black bear in parts of Alabama during the summer months.

“We have two established bear populations in Alabama,” Cook said. “We have one in southwest Alabama near Mobile, Washington and Clarke counties and we have a newer population in northeast Alabama in Dekalb, Cherokee and Etowah counties. Our states to the west and south of Alabama including Georgia and Florida both have pretty good bear populations, so a lot of times they will travel through areas that don’t typically see them.”

Cook said he received the video footage and photographs taken by Abraham, and confirmed that the bear in the footage was a black bear who was about 2 or 3 years old.

“Usually what you have is a young male who has dispersed from their natal range,” Cook said. “We will get calls about a bear sighting, and then a few weeks later we get calls and find out it is that same bear just traveling through different areas.”

For those living in Chilton County, Cook said it would be highly unusual for a bear to stay in one place for an extended period of time.

If individuals do encounter a bear at close range, they are not to run from the bear but back away slowly, stand tall and upright, avoid direct eye contact and make sure the bear has a free direction to escape.

Cook said individuals who try and shoot a bear that is not a legitimate threat to a person’s safety could face fines.

“They are travelers,” Cook said. “They aren’t going to stay in one place very long. If you have food, and it is convenient for them to eat the food, they will stay, but in most cases they are just traveling through.”

For video footage of the bear on Abraham’s property, visit The Clanton Advertiser’s Facebook page.