• Georgia's swinging temperatures may have tricked bears out of hibernation early

    By: Berndt Petersen

    Updated:

    GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - When temperatures soared into the high 70s in late February, it may have tricked some black bears into thinking it’s springtime.  

    Georgia wildlife experts said some bears have come out of hibernation early.

    At Christian Brothers Auto Shop in Dacula, they’ll never forget the day they got some special visitors.

    "Every month or two the story comes up again, and we talk about it. Do you remember the day the bear was here?” said Brian Klaubert.

    Last summer, one of Klaubert’s mechanics shot video from his cellphone of what they figure was a seven-footer.  Over the last couple of weeks, bears have been spotted around this neck of the woods again.

    "Here in the South, bear hibernation isn't quite the cut and dried, hard and fast situation that we see farther north with harder winters,” said the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Tina Johannsen.

    Johannsen is a bear expert.  She said that week in late February could have convinced some bears it was time to venture out.


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    “Huh? It's warm. Do I want to go out and see if this lasts, or not?” Dr. Johannsen said.   

    That makes Klaubert wonder if they’ll be back around his auto shop.

    "I was surprised at the end of February how mild it got.  I didn't think about bears, but now that I hear they're out and about, I can understand what happened,” Klaubert said.

    The Georgia DNR figures there are 5,100 black bears living in the state.

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