Local residents are advised to be on the lookout for a bear running loose in the area, after multiple sightings in Mount Airy.
The animal was spotted at various locations around town during a span of several hours from early to late afternoon Monday, according to reports made to the Mount Airy Police Department.
It was seen in the vicinity of Walmart on Edgewood Drive, at the Edgewood Place apartment complex, and in the area of U.S. 52. Other sightings occurred near the middle of town on Bank Street and McCargo Street.
While that covers a lot of ground and suggests the possible presence of more than one bear, police indicate that a lone creature is involved based on accounts from witnesses.
“Most of the descriptions are fairly consistent,” Police Chief Dale Watson said Tuesday. Callers specified a black bear weighing about 125 pounds which Watson termed “a yearling — a younger bear.”
The office manager of the Edgewood Place apartments who reportedly saw the bear thought it was a dog at first.
No further sightings had been reported Tuesday by around noon, leading to the notion that the bear seen Monday was passing through Mount Airy and did not hang around.
But if the bear is spotted again, the police chief is offering some cautionary advice to citizens who find themselves within close proximity of the animal.
“Just stay away from it and use common sense like you would with any wildlife,” Watson said.
“And definitely don’t feed bears, because they’re not Yogi and this is not Jellystone,” the police chief said of the amiable cartoon character who inhabits a fictional national park.
Watson also offered precautions concerning people who have been trying to take pictures of the bear. This not only subjects them to attack, he said, but creates a “secondary” hazard due to parking vehicles in busy roadways or exposing themselves to oncoming traffic which can cause accidents.
In August, the N.C. Forest Service reported a spike in bear sightings and bold confrontations with humans in mountainous areas of the state. This prompted wildlife officials to urge campers and others to take precautions such as using bear-proof food containers.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.