Camden resident encounters bear in her yard 4 times


Camden resident Judith Abbott stands on the porch of her home while discussing the four times she's encountered a black bear in her yard, Friday. Looking straight ahead in this photo to about 20 yards from where Abbott is standing was about where she last saw the bear. On that occasion, the bear was standing on its hind legs and looking at her, she said.


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Saturday, June 9, 2018

CAMDEN — A black bear has shown up in Camden resident Judith Abbott's yard at least four times in the last couple of weeks, one of those times “probably 30 feet” from where she was standing.

“Lord knows what he’s looking for here,” said Abbott, who lives with husband O.C. in their home on about eight acres surrounded by woods off the Camden Causeway.

Although Abbott doesn’t leave garbage cans outside and doesn't maintain a garden, she believes the bear is searching her property for food.

“That’s just my thoughts, but I’m not a bear expert by any means,” she said.

Abbott said she first spotted the bear a couple of weeks ago after working in her shop. She said she spied a “big lump” on a pine tree that she’d never seen before.

Then the lump moved and she saw what it was: a bear climbing up the tree. Alarmed, Abbott ran into her house to get her husband.

Abbott said the bear, which she described as 5 to 6 feet tall, then crawled down from the tree and headed off in the direction of the Camden Causeway and the woods behind the Camden branch of TowneBank of Currituck, which is nearby.

Abbott said she saw the bear again about five days later, this time through a large bay window in her kitchen. She said she ran out onto a deck. As she did so, the bear ran down toward a canal that feeds into the Pasquotank River. She said the bear ran along the waterfront before eventually disappearing.

Abbot said the second sighting “really let me know” the bear planned to stick around her property.

About a week and a half ago, Abbott spotted the bear again.

"The third time was the one that really got to me because my husband and I were out on the deck on the back of the house,” she said.

The Abbotts have a large oak tree — supposedly the largest in Camden — and a gazebo about 4 feet in front of it. Abbott said she saw something between the slats of the gazebo's railing and exclaimed to her husband, “My gosh, it's the bear.”

“He stood right up and looked at me. He was probably 30 feet from me,” Abbott said.

She said she yelled “Get!” at the bear, and he apparently got the message: he ran away into the woods. He was back 30 minutes later, however, and hung around the canal before disappearing again.

Abbott said she reported the bear to Camden County and was put in touch with an animal control officer. She said that official advised her the county could do nothing about the bear.

Abbott said she’d like to see the bear caught and transported to a more fitting habitat.

Camden Sheriff Rodney Meads said Friday there was a report a couple of weeks ago about a bear going through residents’ yards on the Camden Causeway near the Camden Shell station. Meads said a couple of deputies responded, but they didn’t actually see the bear.

Meads said the sight of bears on the causeway isn’t uncommon, noting he’s seen bears in all parts of the county over the years.

“You’re in bear territory,” Meads said. “You’re going to see bears.”

According to the N.C. Wildlife Commission’s website, bears are found in many of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Bears aren’t usually dangerous unless humans feed or provoke them, the website states.

A bear in someone’s backyard may be searching for a mate, the website said. Bears also aren’t going to stay in a settled area unless they find a reliable food source.

The website advises residents never to feed bears — even if they appear hungry or tame. Taking precautions such as properly disposing of food scraps and garbage, and storing pet food in safe places also helps keep bears away.

The website goes on to offer tips about what to do when encountering a bear. They include: Refraining from approaching or cornering the bear; remaining calm; and keeping any children nearby.

If one happens to meet a bear at close range, the best advice is to back away slowly, make lots of noise by speaking in an assertive voice, and clapping your hands and waving your arms. The latter should be done above your head because it makes your hands appear larger than they are, the website states.