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Wandering bear spotted visiting city’s uptown area
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
By SAM JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer
Visiting uptown Martinsville is highly encouraged in the community — unless you’re a bear.
A small black bear was seen wandering near Broad and College streets Tuesday morning before it crossed Market Street and headed toward the uptown area.
Bobbi Cox, who works at Lockman & Associates on Market Street, said she was outside at about 11:30 Tuesday morning when she saw the bear walk across Market toward her office.
“He was trotting like a dog,” she said, adding she could hear the bear’s feet and claws against the pavement. Two cars driving down Market Street stopped to let the bear pass, she said.
Cox said the bear actually came within a few feet of her, allowing her to get a good look.
He was “a beautiful bear,” she said. “He only came up to about my hips.” She estimated he was no more than three feet high.
Cox, who lives in Critz, said she had not seen a bear up close before, and her co-workers “laughed at me, because I was screaming.” However, she didn’t flee back inside the building. Instead, she stood and watched him. The bear, however, paid her no mind, she said. “He was on a mission.”
Cox said the bear passed behind her workplace and walked into the parking lot of BB&T bank on Ellsworth Street. However, none of the employees at the bank saw the bear, Cox said.
Police Chief Mike Rogers said Tuesday night that four different people had called dispatchers to report having seen the bear. One caller estimated it weighed about 150 pounds, which would make it about a year old, Rogers said.
Rogers said the bear continued uptown and was spotted near the Rives Theatre — the same path chosen by another bear reported in Martinsville about 15 years ago, he said.
“I’ve seen them in the city myself two or three times,” he said, adding that other wildlife, such as coyotes, also are appearing more frequently. “We see coyotes all the time now,” he said.
“We’ve got bear everywhere in Henry County. Bear sightings in the county are pretty frequent,” Rogers added. “They travel a whole lot this time of the year (and) they’re just looking for food.”
Black bears are common in Henry County, so Rogers said it was no surprise to see one in the city a few miles away. “A bear would think nothing of doing 5-10 miles in a day,” he said.
It is illegal to feed bears, according to the DGIF website. Rogers advised anyone who sees a bear not to draw its attention.
“Common sense tells me you just kind of ignore it and walk away from it,” he said. “I wouldn’t holler or say anything unless the bear was coming towards me.”