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A young black bear seen roving through the Five Points neighborhood Monday has residents on edge.
Larry Jarmon captured video of the bear on three surveillance cameras at his 1200 Meadow St. home.
“The neighbor across the street knocked on my door and asked me if my cameras were working,” Jarmon said. “He said ‘You might want to take a look at it, because I saw a bear.’ He heard the noise on the gentleman’s fence over there shaking it. He was smoking a cigarette outside the house over here and then all the said he saw the bear coming. So he took off in the house.”
At 10:11 Monday night, the bear makes his first appearance in Jarmon’s cameras, ambling across Macon Street toward the side yard of Jarmon’s home.
The bear walks up into the driveway on the side of the house, passing very close to the driver’s side of Jarmon’s pickup truck before wandering back onto Macon Street and heading toward Crawford Street.
Jarmon and his wife, Denise, have bus routes for Wilson County Schools.
“It kind of jolted me because me and my wife both leave early in the morning around about 4:55 to go to school,” Jarmon said. “It startled me because he’s out there where I go get in my pickup and my wife’s going out there unattended, so I said that’s dangerous. The last thing you want is to open the door and have a bear come in.”
On Wednesday, Jarmon was sharing his video with neighbors.
Doretha Edwards, who resides at 1116 Meadow St., is on the Five Point Neighborhood Association safety committee.
“Some people in the neighborhood didn’t know. I’ve got to tell them about it,” Edwards said.
Most mornings, Edwards gets up early to go walking.
“Tuesday, I didn’t walk because I was afraid of that,” Edwards said. “I cover my garbage can good. They say he will go in garbage cans and stuff. They can open a garbage can like a man.”
On Monday night, two men knocked on Anna Vines’ 1115 Meadow St. home to inform her of the bear.
“He said ‘Ma’am, did you know there’s a big bear in your backyard?’” Vines said. “I didn’t believe them. My yard is fenced in. I could see where it was bent down. I don’t know whether he jumped the fence or what.”
“It was in my mom’s yard,” said Stephanie Farmer. “He ran over in my neighbor’s yard.”
“At the zoo, that’s the only time I have seen a bear. I didn’t see this bear. I don’t know what to do if I do see him,” Farmer said. “I got a stick and a Taser too. I was scared out my mind.”
“The neighbor told us that he had seen the bear in my backyard and go across the street to my other neighbor’s yard,”said Rose Little. “I’m glad I didn’t see it. I hope they get him soon so everybody can be at ease. I couldn’t sleep that night.”
A wooded area sits at the end of Macon Street along with a swampy area called Hominy Swamp.
“I don’t know if he came from there or what,” Vines said.
Little said she hopes the bear goes back where he came from and doesn’t come back.
Jarmon said Tuesday was trash day in the neighborhood and residents might have had their trash outside Monday night.
Greg Batts, District 3 biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, said he wasn’t surprised by the bear sighting.
“We get calls from pretty much every county in my district anymore.” Batts said. “They harvested a black bear in Wake County for the first time since we’ve been doing harvest records since the early ‘70s. I wouldn’t call them common, but we do have them in Wilson County. Last year they didn’t harvest any bears in Wilson County. Each year for the past five years, they had three to four bears harvested each year.”
Batts said black bears have been known to hang out around Toisnot Swamp.
“That’s where people report them and they are seen,” Batts said. “The kind of areas that they are going to be in are areas where people are not, like swampy areas along the rivers, creeks and streams where it is plenty wooded and quiet. That’s where you would typically find them. They use those as corridors to travel.”
Batts said bears use a pretty large area.
“A male bear uses 20 square miles. A female is half that. So they move around quite a lot,” Batts said. “Right now, this is the time of the year they are really starting to be active and move because they have to build up their fat reserves. The acorns are starting to fall, so you are going to find them searching out those food resources and they are going to be really active looking for food.”
The bear shown on the video was perhaps 125 to 150 pounds.
“That’s what we would call a sub-adult bear,” Batts said. “It’s basically in its first year away from its mother, so those are the ones that tend to wander around the greatest amount because they are looking for a place to establish their home range. Those are the bears that we typically see roaming great distances. With these bears, I tell people they are pretty much here today and gone tomorrow. That bear could be 10 miles away from there today. They move extensively. They are not going to hang around in an area unless there is some particular reason why they would be there like a food resource or something like that.”
Batts tells people not to intentionally feed bears.
“If you know that there is a bear in the area, don’t take the trash out until the day that the trash truck is coming. If you have got a grill, keep your grill secured,” Batts said. “A lot of people throw grease and stuff out after they are through. Don’t do that kind of thing, because that could cause a bear to hang around in an area.”