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Bear sightings in area bring up safety concerns

By DAVID GRAVELY, SWT Sports Editor

It only takes a day or two of going through your friends posts on Facebook to find one. Bears are showing up everywhere in our area, and as they continue to have interactions with humans, they are becoming less afraid of that contact.

Over the course of the past months, there have been bear sightings in Draper, Snowville, and even a few in the Pulaski and Dublin areas. This past week a bear was reported near Pulaski Middle School, and one has been seen several times near the Carriage Hill area.

With the number of bear sightings on the rise, there are several things that should be remembered if you should ever find yourself face to face with one of these animals.swtsportslogo copy

First, stay calm. If you see a bear and it has not seen you, calmly leave the area. As you move away, make noise to let the bear discover your presence. Stop moving towards the bear, and back away slowly while you remaining facing the animal.

Always give the bear plenty of room to escape. Bears rarely attack people unless they feel cornered or provoked. Do not run or make any sudden movements. Running could prompt the bear to give chase, and you cannot outrun a bear. If you are on a trail, step off the trail and leave the area slowly.

If there is a bear in your yard and it approaches you, make yourself look big and make loud noises. Remain at a safe distance and throw rocks to make the bear feel unwelcome. If there is a bear in your home, prop all doors to the outside open and get out of the way of the exit. Never close a bear into a room. Make noises and yell at bear to leave the house. Don’t approach the bear, but make sure it knows it is violating your territory.

If you surprise a bear, speak softly. This may reassure the bear that you mean it no harm.

Finally, if a bear attacks you, fight back. Black bears have been driven away when people have fought back with rocks, sticks, binoculars, and even their bare hands.
For more information on how to deal with bears in our area, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/bear/black-bear-factsheet.pdf. You can also contact the regional office that covers Pulaski County at (276) 783 – 4860 for this or any other wildlife related problems.

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