Wild, wild animals in the area

First Posted: 6/2/2009

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
Well, around here you may not have to worry too much about the feline components of that famous quote from Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, but the bear is another story.
While it is not cause for major alarm, a black bear was spotted Saturday roaming just outside a wooded area at the edge of the town limits of Pilot Mountain.
The animal didnt bother anyone, and was probably just searching for some berries or some other type of food, but it did cause a little concern to area residents who saw it.
Typically, black bears wont bother people, as long as the people respect the bears space and watch it from a distance. They only become a problem when they feel threatened, just as most other animals do.
We definitely cant lock up every wild animal we see roaming through the neighborhood. If that happened, wed run out of cages for the raccoons, possums, groundhogs, snakes and other critters that venture into our lives on occasion.
It isnt uncommon to hear of a bear sighting every couple of years in a fairly residential area. A couple of years ago one was spotted on the northern end of Mount Airy, and even more years ago, one was seen wandering behind the McDonalds and the hotel in Pilot Mountain near U.S. 52, not more than a mile from where Saturdays bear was found.
In searching through our companys other North Carolina newspapers over the weekend, ironically, another bear encounter with humans was recorded in historic downtown Lumberton.
The young bear of about 300 pounds, which by pictures looked to be about the size of the Pilot Mountain visitor this past weekend, went up a tree after a dog chased it. Since residents in the neighborhood decided to get a closer view, the bear chose to take a nap in the tree until the commotion went away.
While animal officials were on the scene to make sure no one hurt the animal and the animal didnt hurt anyone else, they barricaded an area around the tree to keep people away until the creature decided it was safe enough to climb back down the 20 feet of tree he went up and escape into the woods.
Just as in this area, animal officials in Lumberton have seen bears about four times in 10 years. The officials blame land development, logging and construction that are forcing bears out of their habitats and into new areas that remain wooded.
I have been lucky enough to see a bear in the wild. I count myself privileged for having that opportunity.
My family was horseback riding in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains many years ago, I was still in public school, when one was spotted near the horse trail. It also was a young bear, likely just put out of its den by its mother and searching for a new place to call home.
I have a friend who tries to see a bear every time she visits the Smokies and still hasnt been lucky enough to spot one. I hope one day she will.
Until then, maybe she just needs to move into the Pilot Mountain town limits, or keep her eyes open when shes driving down 52 to work every day. She may get to see one even closer to home than driving to Tennessee.
For those who do see any bears, or lions, or tigers … or smaller creatures like raccoons or possums, the animal official from Lumberton, Katherine Floyd, had a great suggestion:
The best thing to do when you see any wildlife is to leave them alone. Dont try to corner or catch them. Most of the creatures will leave on their own.
And please dont feed the animals. That just attracts them.
Wendy Byerly Wood is the associate editor of The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at [email protected] or 719-1923.

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