Jeff Adler was leaving a west Forsyth restaurant Tuesday morning when he saw something that instantly got his attention.
“I was at the four-way stop off Majors Road, just kind of where it meets Post Road, and I saw these three big black objects,” he said.
At first, he thought they were just dogs, but then he took “a second to process and you go, ‘Holy cow, those are bears.’”
Sure enough, Adler watched as a family of three black bears — one adult female and her two cubs — moved through nearby neighborhoods.
Adler, who lives about four miles from where he first saw the creatures, said he had heard rumors of bears in the area.
“I never thought it was really a thing in Forsyth County, and sure enough,” he said.
Adler followed the family for a while in his car through a couple of different neighborhoods.
“There was one other guy on the side of the road … I pulled over to let him know the bears were headed in his direction and he kind of gave me a look like, ‘You’re crazy.’” A short time later, the bears “walked literally right where he had been standing.”
“I had my window down and told him, ‘I like to think I just saved your life.’”
Adler was able to take several photos of the three bears before they moved on.
Sgt. Lee Brown with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said some black bears like the ones Adler witnessed reside in the county, though they are more prevalent to the north of Forsyth, in counties such as Dawson and Lumpkin.
Brown advised anyone who sees a bear to “just leave it alone.”
“Right now they’re just out moving around, probably looking for food,” Brown said.
He added that those who do spot the animals should remove any outdoor sources of food such as trash cans and dog and cat food.
“As long as people have food in their backyards, the bears are going to kind of stay,” Brown said. “But once that food source is gone, they’re going to move on.”
Brown also reminded residents that it’s illegal to harm a bear that wanders onto property.
“They can’t just shoot it because it’s in their yard,” he said. “There are laws against that … If you see one, just go inside and leave it alone.”
As for Adler, he was just glad he was in the right place at the right time.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing really,” he said.