LANETT, AL (WTVM) – A black bear has been spotted in an East Alabama city, and wildlife groups are giving a list of do's and don'ts to residents should they see one.
According to the Lanett Police Department, a black bear was spotted Monday morning on the 1500 block of South 8th Avenue in Lanett.
Shortly after the first sighting, the bear was spotted near Magnolia Road, then later crossing I-85 toward Valley.
Seeing a black bear in Alabama is uncommon and exciting, but it is no cause for alarm. Steve Bryant, District 2 Supervising Wildlife Biologist for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF), says that Alabama's relatively low black bear population is on the rise. Bryant says the black bears are migrating from Georgia and appear to be making their home in northeast Alabama.
Their appearance this time of year is because of their mating schedule.
"Larger adult males will often wander for miles during this time of year in search of receptive females and the sub-adult males seeking a place to establish a new home range," Bryant said.
Other potential reasons for their increased visibility include habitat fragmentation and simply a natural growth in the black bear population.
Alarmed citizens who have seen a bear in their subdivision, on their property, or crossing a road are encouraged to avoid the bear and report it to their local WFF District Office, county sheriff's office or local police department.
"Walking through a neighborhood is not considered abnormal activity for a bear," said Bryant. "It's just visiting and will pass through as it looks for a less frantic location to enjoy life."
What should you do if you are lucky enough to encounter/observe a black bear? WFF offers these suggestions:
- Do not be frightened.
- Do not approach the animal.
- Do not run from the bear; back away slowly.
- Stand tall and upright and make loud noises.
- Avoid direct eye contact with the bear.
- Make sure the bear has an unobstructed direction to escape.
- Never purposely feed a bear.
- Never approach a bear with cubs; this will provoke an attack.
"These animals are an important wildlife resource in Alabama woodlands," Bryant said. "If you have an unexpected encounter with a black bear, don't panic. Consider yourself lucky to have had the experience."
The public is encouraged to report black bear sightings to WFF district wildlife offices. For WFF district contact information, visit www.outdooralabama.com/wildlife-section. Bear sighting can also be reported online at https://game.dcnr.alabama.gov/BlackBear, www.alabamablackbearalliance.com or by email to Thomas Harms at Thomas.Harms@dcnr.alabama.gov.
There is also a website where you can put in bear sightings (Outdooralabama.com) and pictures can be sent to Alabamablackbearalliance.com.