Black bears have reportedly been roaming around Bulloch County in recent weeks.
Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn confirmed this weekend that there have been several black bear sightings in the area.
He said Bulloch County Humane Enforcement Supervisor Joey Sanders investigated several reports of black bears being seen along Interstate 16 a couple of weeks ago.
In late June, Sanders found where a fence had been torn down near the interstate, along with two sets of tracks, Wynn said. He said the tracks appeared to be of a mother and cub.
Several people posted on Facebook during the weekend, claiming to have seen a black bear in the Statesboro area in more than one location.
On Monday, Wynn stressed safety tips for people who might encounter one of the animals.
"I would like to ask everyone to remain calm — I don’t think it is anything to be concerned about," he said. "Folks should give the bear plenty of room and allow it to continue on its activities undisturbed. If a bear changes its behavior, you’re probably too close and should back away. If you see a bear, but the bear doesn’t see you, detour quickly and quietly. And never feed them, because they will come back."
Jonathan McCollar posted this warning on Facebook after seeing a black bear around 8:15 p.m. Saturday near his home: "If you live out Lakeview Road please be careful. We just spotted a large bear out that way behind Oakfield."
His post sparked several more comments from people, one of whom said he heard reports of a black bear seen near Mill Creek Regional Park just before the fireworks display Thursday night.
Wynn said he believes the reports are credible.
"I believe they are here," he said. "There's too much evidence."
Other unconfirmed reports from Facebook users saying that a black bear was seen on Northside Drive East near Beasley Road have not been substantiated. However, the area is close to Mill Creek park and Lakeview Road.
Anyone spotting a bear should report the sighting to Bulloch County Public Safety at (912) 489-1661.
Staff Writer Jeff Harrison contributed to this report.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.