Bear hangs out on Eighth Street

Published 7:50 pm Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A bear was spotted behind Frank’s Pizza and on Charlotte Street Wednesday afternoon. The Daily News caught this glimpse of the bear in an East Eighth Street tree shortly after 1 p.m. Use caution when in the area and expect some delays should the area be cordoned off as officials respond. (WDN Photo/Vail Stewart Rumley)


Every now and then a wild animal wanders outside of its natural habitat and stumbles into ours. Such was the case Wednesday as a young black bear rambled into a Washington neighborhood.

The bear climbed a tree and spent the rest of the day hanging out about 30 feet above East Eighth Street between Charlotte and Brown streets, straddling a limb in a tree with several signs — “Beware of Dog” and “No Trespassing” — nailed to its trunk.

The Washington Police Department heard about the bear in the early hours of Wednesday morning, said Senior Officer Parks Moss, with North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

But a bear sighting in town is not so rare an occurrence, according to Moss.

“Usually we’ll have a bear, about once a year, come into the city limits,” Moss said. “Here lately, it’s been less than that.”

Moss was alerted to the bear at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and soon he, other wildlife officers, including a biologist, and Washington police officers were on the scene.

“Mostly, (we were) just keeping people from congregating around where the bear is,” he said.

Moss guessed the one- to two-year-old bear’s weight was somewhere close to 175 pounds.

“This one’s old enough, whether it’s male or female, it’s left the mama bear — it’s on its own,” Moss explained.

Police officers had Eighth Street from John Small Avenue to Charlotte Street blocked off Wednesday, monitoring the area and directing pedestrian traffic when school bus drivers made their afternoon stops in the neighborhood.

Moss said then that there was no plan to do anything with the bear — wildlife and law enforcement would simply wait until the bear decided it was dark enough and quiet enough to make its way out of the tree and back to its natural environment.

“All the ones we’ve had — once it gets dark and people leave it alone — it goes on its way and we don’t hear from it again,” Moss said.

Moss said there have been a few occasions when it took two or three days for a bear to come down. As of deadline for the Washington Daily News, this bear had climbed from its perch and was wandering around the neighborhood. Washington Police patrol officers were acting as unofficial escort,  at a distance, tracking the bear’s movements over the radio.

If the bear is still hanging around today, Moss urged people to steer clear of the area: “Try not to congregate where the bear is. The less activity we have around, the more likely it will leave the area.”