VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) -Bears have been spotted in a couple of neighborhoods across Lowndes County.
It’s not uncommon in the area, but it’s been a few years since any were spotted.
“The bears we have seen here in the past, that we’ve had photographs of, sometimes they just look like big dogs. They are not the massive animal always that you would expect. But again, they are wild animals, we need to respect that and they can still do a lot of damage,” said Paige Dukes, Lowndes County’s Public Information Officer.
Over the past couple of weeks, bears were seen in residential areas. Some were reported on Hollywood Street and on Chattooga Drive.
People told me off-camera, they heard from other neighbors about the sightings. One even tells me he hears dogs sometimes barking loud late at night in the neighborhood, and believes it’s because the bears are passing by.
“We do want to let everyone know the appropriate officials are aware of the bears here. Believe it or not, they are part of the wildlife here in Lowndes County. They are a beautiful natural resource, we certainly want to protect them. But people are the priority so if you see bears in residential areas call 911,” said Dukes.
Officials recommend the following:
- Do not approach bears.
- Don’t try to get your pictures, selfies, or videos.
- Clean outside grills.
- Make sure trash is secure.
- Don’t leave pet food out overnight, the bears may be looking for a snack. It also raises the chances of your pet getting rabies if the food comes into contact with wildlife.
Department of Natural Resource (DNR) assured officials the bears are just moving through the area, but if they find a food source, there’s more of a chance of them sticking around.
“Just go ahead and call 911. And the other thing is to make sure you do that right away. Obviously these bears are not sitting there waiting for DNR to tell them what to do so you want to call as quickly as possible so we have a greater chance of those officers being able to make contact with the bear and actually observe the behaviors,” said Dukes.
After contacting dispatch, they’ll put a call into the DNR. DNR officials will go and check the situation.
They’ll monitor and make sure the bear is scared and will move on. If the bear isn’t moving on, it’ll be trapped and moved.