2 bears spotted in northwest Charlotte neighborhood

04/29/2014 11:08 AM

04/29/2014 3:37 PM

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and animal control officers are paying extra attention to a northwest Charlotte neighborhood after a pair of black bears was spotted Tuesday morning.

A 16-year-old girl on her way to school reported seeing the bears, and authorities say an officer from CMPD’s Animal Care & Control spotted one of the bears. The sightings were on Forest Cross Drive, in a neighborhood off Sunset Road, east of Miranda Road.

The girl’s father, Jeffrey Muhammad, said his daughter was walking to catch her school bus before 8 a.m. when she saw the bears. The girl said she saw one bear on each side of the road. The bears got up on their hind legs, the girl reported, so she ran back home.

A representative from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission visited the area briefly but did not find any evidence of a bear.

Melissa Knicely, a spokeswoman for Animal Care & Control, said animals such as bears are the responsibility of state wildlife officers. Those officers won’t respond to all calls, Knicely said, because the bears often return to rural areas.

Black bears are native in North Carolina’s mountains and at the coast, but bears sometimes wander into the Piedmont in the spring, looking for food or trying to establish new territory.

The state’s Wildlife Resource Commission said juvenile bears of 1 to 2 years old disperse from their home territory, and adult bears sometimes roam many miles in a search of food and mates.

If left alone, wildlife officials said, bears will return to their natural habitat. People are urged to avoid following the bears and to give the animals an escape route.

“Sometimes when a bear is seen, crowds may gather,” said Ann May, biologist for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. “This seemingly harmless situation can become dangerous to both humans and bears.

“The best option is to stay away, not interfere, and allow the bear to move out on its own.”

Residents of Forest Cross Drive said Tuesday morning that the animal control officer who spotted the bear estimated it was 1 to 2 years old.

A black bear spent more than a week last year wandering across parts of Cabarrus and Stanly counties. The animal was spotted in downtown Concord one Saturday morning.

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