Black bear shot, killed by wildlife officer at Corbin family's home
When members of the Patrick family took to their yard for a Memorial Day weekend picnic, little did they know their gathering would be crashed by an unwanted visitor - a five-foot tall black bear.
Sharon Patrick said about 30 family members of her family were outside their Moore Hill area home when, shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday, the bear interrupted their party.
"It came from across the woods across the road, came over behind the neighbor's trailer and their building, and then came over to our other neighbor's trailer, got up on their porch and smelled around their garbage," she said. "My niece and her children were in the front yard. They were actually the first ones to see it.
"She came running around and said, 'there's a bear in your front yard.' Everybody ran to see."
The bear then made a trip through the Patrick's garden before heading closer to their house.
"He kind of moseyed over here and ate our cat food," she said, adding that she believes the bear was not a stranger to their property. "You could tell he acted like he had been here before."
As the bear made his trek around the property, Patrick and her family kept track of the bear - from a several yards away.
"We kept our distance and watched it. We tried to keep the house between us and it," she said. Although family members were cautious, Patrick said the bear showed no signs of fear of the crowd that was gathered. "He was not afraid of us at all," she said.
After raiding the cat's bowl, Patrick said the bear headed for the picnic table where food from the picnic was still sitting.
"We kind of left our picnic. The table was set up with all of the food on it," she said. "We stood where we could see him but could still get out of the way. He was not aggressive toward us, but he definitely was not afraid."
The bear then raided the family's grill, helping itself to hamburgers, hot dogs, buns and other goodies.
"Every now and then, he would take something over there and eat it and then come back," she said. "Most of it, he just ate right here at the table. When he would stand up, he was about as tall as me."
Patrick said that after dining on burgers and buns, the bear turned his attention to a big chocolate cake.
"He licked all the icing off of it. He kind of scratched through the cake, but he didn't eat it." She said the bear didn't seem to be in any hurry to leave. "He was here for about an hour," Patrick noted.
As other family members kept an eye on the bear, Patrick called 911 for help. Within a short while, a Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife officer Brian Bowling arrived to assess the situation. He was sooned joined by two Kentucky State Police officers. By this time, Patrick said it was beginning to get dark.
"He shined a light on the bear. The bear didn't even look up."
She said the bear then went over the an area behind a building, at which time the officer went closer to the animal.
"The officer went over as close as he felt safe, clapped his hands and started making noise. The bear just looked at him," she added. "He didn't budge." Bowling told the family, "That bear is not afraid of people. That is not a good thing."
Patrick said she is thankful that no children were in the area where the bear came. "As a matter of fact, there had been several children in the neighbor's yard only minutes before the bear showed up."
After several attempts to reach supervisors in Frankfort about what to do, Patrick said Bowling got the go ahead to take the bear down. Patrick said that after the bear was shot, it went into the woods just yards away where it died.
"We were hoping that they could tranquilize it and move it, but that didn't happen," she said.
Patrick said Bowling told them that another bear sighting report was received about two hours before their encounter. That sighting was made along the Corbin Bypass.
Bowling confirmed the bear, which he said was about half grown, showed no signs of being afraid of him or bystanders.
"If you yell at them and make a lot of noise, most of the time they will run away," he said.
Bowling said that when he approached the bear and clapped his hands, the bear did not seem intimidated at all.
"It didn't have any effect on him at all."
As he was backing away, Bowling said the bear actually began moving toward him, and got as close as 10 yards. It was then that Bowling started trying to contact his state headquarters to see what course of action to take.
"Due to the fact that it was not trying to get away and was being aggressive, we determined the best decision was to take the bear down," he said.
On Sunday, a wildlife biologist came and picked up the bear's carcass to be taken to Frankfort where studies will be done on it.
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Capt. Tim Catron, whose district covers Knox and 10 other southeastern Kentucky counties, said such bear sightings are on the increase.
"We are seeing more just because bears are beginning to make a comeback. It is kind of unusual for a bear to come into a yard where people are," he said, adding that because a bear's sense of smell is so acute, they are attracted to the smell of food.
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