Bear on loose in city

The sighting of a bear this morning in Mount Airy is prompting a warning to the public from city police.

“We want people to be aware of it — just leave it alone and it will go back to where it came from,” Capt. Alan Freeman said.

At last report, the animal described as a smaller black bear was believed to be in a wooded area between First Community Bank on West Independence Boulevard (the former Bank of America location) and the old Bright Leaf Drive-In site.

Two officers were on bike patrols in the area to warn people about the bear and “not to mess with it,” Freeman said, including users of the nearby Emily B. Taylor Greenway.

In addition to alerting the community of its presence, and to stay away from the bear, the police department is seeking the help of anyone who might spot it in order to pinpoint the animal’s location.

“If they see the bear, call us,” Freeman said, at 336-786-3535. No one should try to feed the animal or engage it in any other manner, he added.

The bear initially was sighted about 7:30 a.m., crossing West Pine Street (N.C. 89) from the area of Creekside Cinemas, headed toward Independence Boulevard.

Then around 8:30 a.m., employees of the bank, at the corner of Independence and Frederick Street, saw the bear rummaging through trash cans there.

Freeman, who said city police had contacted the state wildlife agency about the sighting, said it is believed that the situation will be resolved just by allowing the bear some space so it can eventually wander away from town.

Normally, bears are usually out to find food and will avoid humans and not cause problems unless confronted or cornered.

“Leave it alone and it will be alright,” Freeman advised.

Bear sightings have been fairly rare in Mount Airy in recent years.

The last recalled by Freeman was about two years ago, when a big black bear was seen off West Lebanon Street in the area of Allred Mill Road.

It was much larger than the animal seen today, he said.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

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