Bear Spotted In Tree at Blue Ridge Electric Office
DNR gives tips on dealing with bears
A special visitor paid a call to the Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative office Tuesday afternoon.
Blue Ridge employee Jacob Kelley was standing on the warehouse dock looking up Main Street when he saw a bear coming up the road.
Kelley saw the bear cross the street, but didn't know where it had gone after that.
Blue Ridge employee Bryan Roper soon had the answer to that question.
As he was coming back from lunch, a woman flagged him down and said she'd seen a bear go up the tree in front of the cooperative office.
"She told me that she saw a bear on Neely Street and then pointed and said it was in the tree in front of our office," Roper said.
Taken aback, Roper asked the woman to repeat herself, then walked over to the tree and looked up, spotting the bear.
Roper then called the police.
Before law enforcement arrived, a crowd had started to gather outside the office. Cones with caution tape had been set up to keep people from getting to close to the tree where the bear was hiding out.
Through the tree limbs, spectators got a glimpse of the bear moving his head around or climbing a little further up the tree.
Ron Winegard with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said his agency would take the tranquilized bear back up to the mountains and turn him loose.
He said the bear had probably gotten spooked and went up the tree to feel safe.
“With Pickens so close to the mountains, it's not uncommon for them to be out here,” Winegard said. "They spook pretty easily, so if everyone had left him alone he would have eventually come down on his own and walked away."
Milton Ponder of Dacusville said that he had been in CVS when he heard about the bear up in the tree.
Ponder, who said he sees bears from time to time on his land, said that he saw a good-sized bear just a couple of days ago near his hay shed while he was talking to some friends.
"One of them called out and the bear was gone," Ponder said. "They really don't want much to do with humans. I feel sorry for them. "As we keep building more houses in the mountains, we are forcing them out of their natural habitat."
Just last month, SC DNR issued a release stating DNR biologists have reported increased bear activity throughout the state.
While black bears are usually shy and non-aggressive toward people, DNR warns that people should remember bears are wild animals and should be respected.
As of May 1, bears had been spotted in 45 of 46 South Carolina counties this season.
What should you do if you see a bear? Report it, and DNR's made that easy by creating a web-based reporting form. Reported sightings are used in creating black bear management policies.
Most black bears spotted are just passing through, but bears are like some people — if there's an easy meal to be had, they're going to have it.
DNR officials say the key to wandering bears is to not give them any reason to hang out in the area.
That means removing anything that's going to attract them.
DNR offers these suggestions when dealing with bears:
Don't feed them! A bear that becomes used to having food provided for it is “an accident waiting to happen.” If you don't feed a bear the first time, it's probably going to move on and leave the area soon.
Keep your garbage in tightly shut or bear-proof trash cans. Garbage left out in the open — in garbage cans, dumpsters or even in the back of a truck – is like ringing a dinner bell for a hungry bear.
If you keep pet food outside, make sure it's stored in airtight containers. Don't leave leftover pet food out in the open.
Keep your grills clean and covered, so a bear doesn't smell the odors and come investigate.
Bears have been known to get into bird feeders. If this happens in your yard, take the bird feeders down and put them a way for a time. Once the easy-access food source disappears, the bear will move on. You could also put your feeders on a rope so you can raise them out of the reach of bears.
Do you keep bees? An electric, bear-proof fence is a great investment to protect your hives.
Although DNR says there has never been a human fatality or even an attack attributed to a black bear in South Carolina, keeping these tips in mind will help keep you and the bears safe.