The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has several suggestions for those who encounter black bears:
• Bears are typically attracted to human food and will typically leave when the source is gone
• Most problems “can be resolved through simple actions such as taking down bird feeders, taking in pet food or storing garbage in an area unavailable to bears like a garage”
• Bears are only captured and relocated as “a last resort and only warranted if a bear persists in being a nuisance and presents a safety threat to residents or major property damage is likely”
• It might take the bear some time to move on and “may take several days for the bear to learn that it is no longer going to be provided with a free meal”
• No attacks or fatalities have been recorded in the state
Other tips can be found at georgiawildlife.com/node/1390
EAST FORSYTH -- While most in Forsyth County residents may not want visitors interrupting their Monday morning coffee, Allen Key didn’t mind too much.
While he and his wife were getting up on Monday, Key spotted a large black bear in his backyard on Wandering Oak Way, just off Little Mill Road in west Forsyth.
“As I was waking her up, I looked out the window and a black bear was going across our yard,” he said.
Key said that he and his wife often feed other wildlife, which he thought attracted the bear.
“We feed the deer, and I guess he was there for the deer food,” Key said. “He tore down our birdfeeder. I’ve got a picture of him — he was almost, like climbing a tree — and he was after another bird feeder in that tree.”
Going after all the food took the bear a little while.
“He hung around for 15 to 20 minutes or so,” Key said. “We’ve got hundreds of acres of woods behind us, and he just went back into the woods.”
Little Mill Middle School is near the area.
No one at the school saw the bear, but the principal kept students inside as a precaution, according to school system officials.
Key described the bear as a male — and a big one at that.
“Standing on his hind legs, he was at least six-foot tall, and it was a male,” he said. “If you see the picture, you see the bird feeder, that [bird bath] is probably 32 inches high, and on all fours he was probably 6-8 inches above that.”
While he has received visits from all sorts of animals, including deer, turkey, raccoons, and foxes, Key said he has never seen a deer on his property before but didn’t feel the need to contact authorities.
Bear sightings are somewhat common in Forsyth County. In May, a bear was spotted at both Cumming Elementary and Otwell Middle schools.
Per the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, more than 5,000 black bears live in Georgia, and there are no recorded black bear attacks or fatalities in the state.
Young male bears tend to wander to establish their own territory and to reduce inbreeding.
The north Georgia Mountains is one of the most popular places for bears in the state, along with the Ocmulgee River drainage system and the Okefenokee Swamp.
The department does not typically relocate bears and instead works to evaluate and remove whatever attracted the bear. Bears are most commonly attracted by food sources and will move on when those are no longer present.