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1/24/17- Black Bears on the Loose

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There is no greater thrill than checking a game camera after it has been in a certain spot for a few weeks. You just know that you will have a good buck or a few good bucks on it. Surprisingly, many people are pulling their cameras and to their surprise…they have a black bear!! At first it is almost unbelievable, but I have looked into it and bear sightings in Alabama are much more common than you think!

In July of last year, a former wildlife professor of mine at Auburn University shared some research with He and his students have been conducting black bear studies around the Auburn area for six years now. They are studying this magnificent animal to learn more about black bear habitat and diversity. Some bears are collared and tracked, while others are being identified by “bear hair snares” where their hair is collected and then a lot of chemistry takes place to collect DNA for further observations. Professor Todd Steury told that bears have been sighted in many areas of central Alabama such as Pelham and Opelika. I have heard from other hunters and landowners that bears have been spotted in Saraland, Chatom, and even Mobile. Many landowners claim to have pictures of bears hanging out on their back porches, or shaking their corn feeders they have out to feed the neighborhood deer.

Steury went onto say that they believe the bears are coming from local populations around Macon, Georgia. The bears are following favorable habitat of dense forests with mature pine all the way to these areas in Alabama. According to Steury and the article, many of the bears that have been spotted are most likely juvenile males that have been run out of their territory by larger males. The solo males wander for miles and miles and miles until they find somewhere new to call home. The bears are not very intelligent nor experienced so they find no harm with coming into neighborhoods and making themselves at home. However, they are causing pandemonium in many areas and people are finding themselves in some sticky situations. Not too long ago, an area in Clarke County was claimed home by a black bear. Apparently this black bear had a nose for collard greens and decided to let himself inside and eat them straight off of the stove. Locals say you could hear the homeowner shrieking from miles away. The bear ran into the woods and keeps everyone on their toes for now!

Instances like this story are becoming more and more common. Local authorities and law enforcement ask that if a bear is spotted, please give them a call and DO NOT try to handle the situation on your own. On the bright side, convenient stores in some areas are offering bear paraphernalia so stop in and get your black bear t-shirt today!


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By: Meaghan English

My name is Meaghan English, a wildlife specialist with TrueSouth. I graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Management and I have grown up with a passion for hunting. I knew from an early age that I was not only interested in the harvesting of wildlife, but I was also very interested in their biology and management. I decided that I not only wanted to be a wildlife enthusiast, I want to be an educated wildlife specialist. I will be using that grand education as a member of the TrueSouth team contributing wildlife blog articles!

My first hunting memory flashes back to when I was six or seven years old. Like any other Saturday during deer season, my dad had told my mom to get me ready because we were going hunting. Of course I was ecstatic! I was not ecstatic about the hair bow my mom made me wear with my camouflage (she wanted everyone to know I was in fact a fashionable girl). The entire way to Perdue Hill, Alabama, my dad told me that today would be the first day I would actually shoot my first deer and I knew I was ready. We pulled up to the camp, unloaded, and fed all the “camp cats”. Before we headed to our stand, I had spotted three kittens that I simply could not leave behind so I stuffed them in my jacket. After walking what seemed like five miles, we finally made it to the “Pressbox stand” (with my smuggled kittens) and sat down. Dad continuously pestered me to be quiet, but I wasn’t that worried about shooting a deer, I had kittens! Eventually, the sun began to sink behind the trees and a spike (without olfactory senses) entered the field. When it was safe to quietly move, dad handed me the gun and I handed him my three kittens. I slowly pulled the gun up and placed my cheek against the stock. Dad told me to breathe slowly and pull the trigger when I was ready. Sure enough, I pulled the trigger and the spike hit the ground. We high-fived, exchanged kittens again, and climbed down to see the kill. It certainly was not a wall hanger, but a huge chapter in my life was started that night. My dad and I still hunt together to this day and we practice quality deer management at all times.

My ultimate goal is to provide clients with a survey of flora and fauna that currently inhabit a specific tract of land and, if desired, how to properly manage that land for the species that are found there. All feedback is greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you!

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