SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A young black bear has visited the Bullock Mobile Home Park off Pughsville Road fairly regularly in the past several weeks. Residents are concerned about him but they’re also concerned about pets and small children.
Victoria Harris has captured video of the bear and says he roams the neighborhood at least twice a day.
And he’s probably not all that wild anymore.
“He was sitting on the back of a truck laying on the tool bed just like he lives here,” says neighbor Theresa Locksley when asked how comfortable the bear has become.
“The bear was looking at my husband like, ‘What are you looking at me for?'” said Thelma Rake. “‘I’m in the trash trying to get me something to eat.'”
But game officials say that’s the very reason he comes around.
“He’s there just for food,” says district biologist Pete Acker of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
Acker says it’s common for young male black bears, age 1.5 to 2 years, to look for food once they’re no longer cared for by their mothers. He believes the bear came from the Great Dismal Swamp, an area that is “at or near full bear capacity.”
Black bears are the only kind of bears indigenous to Virginia and are generally not aggressive, according to Acker.
After seeing several children and pets in the neighborhood, we asked if adding a bear to that mix concerns them.
“Yes, I’m scared if they go to chase him, what he’ll do to them,” Locksley said.
“Very concerned,” responded Glenn Arpin. He feeds the neighbor’s cat and puts peanuts in a cup for the local squirrels.
“He came and got into the tree and got all the peanuts out,” Arpin said as he showed us a bite mark on the cup where the bear was trying to take it with him.
“I ran him out of the yard yesterday. I ran him out of the yard Sunday.”
Acker says the bear will leave if his food source is cut off, so he advises neighbors to put trash outside no earlier than is absolutely necessary, and reduce or eliminate bird feeders and any other outdoor sources of food.
Relocation is not a realistic option.
“We really don’t do that anymore. If you move the bear and don’t remove the food source, then another bear will come and take its place.”
Because he’s such a regular, neighbors showed me several pictures and a lengthy video of him roaming the neighborhood and climbing a tree. They worry what will happen to him.
“A few of the neighbors have been out here and wanted to shoot the bear,” Harris said.
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