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Bear spotted in the area
Ranger: Recent wildfires might have displaced the animal
W Bear 4
A healthy black bear is photographed by game cameras on property at Greasy Corner Hunting Club near the Bulloch/Bryan county line. - photo by Special to the Herald

    An unexpected visitor was spotted at the Greasy Corner Hunting Club property recently. While hunters prepare for deer season by setting out bait, they were unprepared for a black bear.
    According to Pembroke Police Dept. Chief Mark Crowe, hunter Daniel Sapp noticed bear tracks where he had put bait out in preparation for deer reason on property near the Bulloch/Bryan county line. Crowe said after spotting the tracks, they put a little more bait out to see whether the bear would come back.
    They also set up game cameras to catch him on film him if it did, he said.  The bear reappeared Oct. 10 and 11 in the early evening around 7 p.m., he said.
    Images captured by the game camera show a large, jet black, healthy bear.
    Club member Lee Strickland said he has seen the bear himself.
    “Months ago I was back there (on the hunting property near Ash Branch Road and Interstate 16) and saw something,” he said. “I thought to myself — look at that big ol’ hog. It was eating at the food plot. Then I realized it was a bear. I was about 30 yards away and watched him for  15 or 20 minutes.”
    Strickland guessed the bear weighed around 250 pounds. “It’s rare to have a bear in Bulloch County.”
    Georgia Department of Natural Resources Ranger Eddie Akins said there are very limited sightings of bears in the area, but added that there are man large acreages of undeveloped property near the Bulloch/Bryan end of the county, which is not that far from Ft. Stewart.
    Bears are a common sight at Ft. Stewart, and the Okefenokee Swamp isn’t a great distance away either, he said.
    “We’re not far from the Okefenokee Swamp, or the Ogeechee River, Altamaha River or Savannah River corridors,” he said. Recent wildfires at the swamp could have displaced the bear.
    A few years ago a small black bear was struck by a car on Langston Chapel Road. It died before it could be relocated. A year or so ago, drivers spotted a bear on U.S. 80 West near Cecil Cassidy Road, and local humane enforcement officers noted tracks in that area.
    The best thing to do if you see a bear is leave it alone, Akins said. “It has been my experience, if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone.”
    There are no plans to relocate the bear, and if it did wander from another area, it is likely it will return to where there are other bears, he said.
    However, if there is a good food source and the right habitat, bears could be happy in areas such as Greasy Corner Hunting Club.
    Hopefully, no one will shoot the bear while hunting.  If they do, there could be charges.
    Crowe said he hopes with the onset of deer season and dog-hunting season, where hunters use dogs to track deer, that hunters are reminded there is no bear season.
     “I’m pretty sure the bear will just run away when he hears dogs and hunters, but please be cautious if you do come across the bear,” he said.
    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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