Along with the usual tourists who visit Mount Airy at this time of year has come a furry visitor to town — a brown bear that’s been spotted several times in recent days.
The latest occasion was on Saturday when the bear was spotted on Kyle Street near Riverside Drive, and later in the vicinity of the Ararat River Greenway, according to the Mount Airy Police Department.
“Somebody said they saw it cross the walking trail near Tharrington School,” Lt. Jeff Inman said.
However, officers who responded to that vicinity were unable to locate the animal, described as a small bear weighing about 170 pounds. “It’s a lone bear,” Inman said.
Police had been notified of its presence in Mount Airy earlier in the week, with Inman recalling that the first reports were received on Thursday.
“A few neighbors saw it,” he said of sightings in the Jackson Road area. “It would make an appearance, then disappear.”
Inman added Saturday that the bear’s meanderings have mostly been in the northeast section of the city along the Riverside Drive corridor.
“And it seems to be headed south,” he said regarding its last sighting near Tharrington Primary School.
City police have been in contact with state wildlife personnel in their efforts to monitor the bear’s whereabouts and obtain guidance in dealing with the situation.
Bears are wandering creatures that normally avoid humans, but in their search for food can venture into residential neighborhoods from time to time.
People who might spot the bear in Mount Airy are urged to follow some basic steps, according to Inman.
“They don’t need to approach it,” he said. Also, it is not advisable to feed a bear or have any kind of food items available in areas outside homes.
“That will entice the bear to return,” Inman said.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.