There have been more bear sightings reported than usual according to Whitley County E911. Over the past several weeks there has been reports of bear sightings all across the county. The Whitley Count Sheriff’s Department reported that the most recent were two sightings in the Woodbine and Bee Creek areas.
Adam Sulfridge, who works in public affairs for the sheriff’s department, says there is a host of reasons why they can show up. He also stated that this is an opportunity to teach kids about importance of practicing safety when encountering such wildlife.
“Definitely don’t feed them on purpose,” said Sulfridge.
According to Kentucky Fish and Wildlife (KFW), most conflicts occur due to intentional feeding, or access to other human-related sources such as garbage, pet food, livestock feed, and birdfeeders. Bears are opportunistic feeders, meaning that when they have the chance to eat, they take it.
“They’ll get right close by the house, I’ve seen it happen,” said Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell, adding that bears often come out in summer time looking for food. “They’ll go right through your garbage.”
Harrell asks that if someone encounters a bear, please do not approach it.
“While bears may appear very calm and non-threatening, they should be treated with respect as they are wild animals whose behaviors can be unpredictable,” says KFW on their website.
If in the presence of a bear, KFW advises that if you see a bear from a distance, change your direction to avoid it. They say bears are naturally curious and often times “stand upright to obtain a better sense of smell,” so do not confuse that with aggression. However, one should never run from a bear because the KFW says this “will trigger its natural instinct to chase.”
“If approached by a bear, stand your ground, raise your arms to appear larger, and yell until it leaves the area,” says the KFW. “If a black bear attacks, fight back aggressively and do not play dead.”
For more information on wildlife safety, please visit fw.ky.gov and click the wildlife tab.
The sheriff’s department requests that if a bear is spotted that is believed to pose a risk to public safety, please call Whitley County E911 at 606-549-6017.
In case of emergency, always dial 911.