Healthy-sized bear spotted across the river


Photo: Carrie Moran on Facebook

A relatively large black bear apparently has decided to make its home in the Stembridge Road/Pebble Hill Road area.

The bear was spotted and photographed on Saturday afternoon while crossing Stembridge. Meanwhile, an image of a similar-sized bear was captured on a trail cam earlier this year off of Pebble Hill Road, quite possibly the same one.

Baldwin County has occasional bear spottings, most often in the southern part of the county. However, black bears are much more common in this part of Georgia than some people may realize. Twiggs County is the unofficial capital of black bears in Middle Georgia, which is due to the Ocmulgee River watershed, an excellent bear habitat, Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Bobby Bond said in an interview several years ago. Middle Georgia black bears are sort of "boxed in," Bond added. To the west, according to Bond, is more developed areas of Bibb and Houston counties. To the east is an abundance of farmland, which doesn’t provide ideal cover for bears. To the north, meanwhile, is Interstate 16, a major obstacle for bear crossings. 

Bears have relatively poor vision and hearing, and their interstate-crossing skills leave much to be desired. Several years ago, for example, a Baldwin County Sheriff's Office deputy plowed over a bear in his cruiser during a prisoner transport along Interstate 20.

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The Ocmulgee River watershed is one of three concentrated black bear habitats in Georgia, according to the DNR’s Bear Fact Sheet. “Black bears can typically be found in three distinct regions in Georgia, although they will range over larger areas in search of food. They can be found in the North Georgia mountains, along the Ocmulgee River drainage system in the central part of the state and in the Okefenokee Swamp in the southeast. Young male bears often will roam large areas until they are able to establish their own territory.”

Bears are extremely anti-social when it comes to human interaction and instead prefer staying hidden in brush piles or low-lying swampy areas. Bond has had a long career studying bears in Middle Georgia, and he says that he’s “yet to see or hear of an attack on a human.” Nevertheless, if you see a bear, according to Bond, do not run.

“That’s actually the worst thing that you can do,” he said.

Instead, slowly begin walking backwards while talking in an authoritative voice.

“Bear get back! Bear go away! Something to that extent,” Bond said.

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