Don’t be surprised if you start seeing more and more bears in Georgia

RAW VIDEO: Black bear roaming in Paulding County

PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. — You’re going to be noticing more and more bears roaming outside in Georgia this spring. And there’s a reason why.

A Channel 2 Action News viewer sent in video of a black bear on her property in Paulding County this week. The bear is seen on the video sauntering around her yard. She said the bear initially went for the trash cans, but luckily crews just emptied them.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources says that native black bears are waking up from their hibernation and are hungry.

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“As you can imagine, bears are hungry and ready to find food when they leave those dens. This search for food can sometimes put them a little too close to people,” says Adam Hammond, state bear biologist with the Wildlife Resources Division.

The bear sightings are normal and are to be expected across our state in the spring.

So, what do you do if you come across a bear? Here are steps from the DNR’s “BearWise” program:

  • NEVER FEED OR APPROACH BEARS: Feeding bears (intentionally or unintentionally) trains them to approach homes and people for more food. Bears will defend themselves if a person gets too close, so don’t risk your safety and theirs!
  • SECURE FOOD, GARBAGE AND RECYCLING: Food and food odors attract bears so don’t reward them with easily available food or garbage.
  • REMOVE BIRD FEEDERS WHEN BEARS ARE ACTIVE: Birdseed and other grains have a high calorie content making them very attractive to bears. The best way to avoid conflicts with bears is to remove feeders.
  • NEVER LEAVE PET FOOD OUT: Feed outdoor pets portion sizes that will be completely eaten during each meal and then remove leftover food and food bowl. Securely store these foods so nothing is available to bears.
  • CLEAN AND STORE GRILLS: After you use an outdoor grill, clean it thoroughly and make sure that all grease and fat is removed. Store cleaned grills and smokers in a secure area that keeps bears out.
  • LET NEIGHBORS KNOW: Share news with your friends and neighbors about recent bear activity and how to avoid bear conflicts. Bears have adapted to living near people; are you willing to adapt to living near bears?

The black bear is a symbol of Georgia’s natural diversity, the only bear found in the state and a conservation success story. Though now considered the most common bear in North America, the species was nearly eradicated from Georgia in the 1930s due to unregulated market hunting, illegal harvest—including the killing of bears as “vermin,” and large-scale habitat loss. Sound wildlife management practices have restored Georgia’s black bears to a thriving population estimated at 4,100 bears statewide.