Animal eludes capture as he roams city
Published 7:52 am Thursday, July 30, 2015
A trespassing suspect on the eastern end of town has eluded capture for two days, despite being spotted roaming the grounds of at least two city businesses. The suspect is described as about a year-and-a-half old, black, covered in fur and walking on all fours.
On Tuesday afternoon, a young black bear was spotted walking through the lot at Clayton Mobile Homes on Highway 19E before running off into a wooded area, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Wildlife Officer Dennis Ward said. Then on Wednesday morning, the bear was spotted again, this time walking along 19E in the same area. After running off the road, the bear made his way through the parking lot at Lone Star Steakhouse, where he paused to sniff the trash bin before once again disappearing into a patch of trees.
Officers of the Elizabethton Police Department and Ward drove around the area but were not able to immediately locate the bear.
“It’s becoming more and more common in Elizabethton that we are seeing bears in town,” Ward said. “They are looking for food.”
Ward estimated the bear that has been seen the past few days is about a year-and-a-half old, an age he described as “not quite an adult but not a baby anymore.”
At that age, bear cubs are left on their own by their mothers to fend for themselves, Ward said. This can lead to these adolescent bears wandering into human inhabited areas.
“They are cubs that are trying to figure things out on their own so they will do stuff an adult bear wouldn’t normally do,” he said. “For lack of a better term, they don’t know any better.”
Cubs are born during the winter and live with their mother through the next winter and into the summer. At that time, Ward said, the mother leaves them on their own, which means a lot of activity from adolescent bears can be seen during the summer.
If anyone sees the bear, they are advised not to approach it or try to feed it but rather to call 911.
After two days of run ins with the law, Ward said he hopes the young bear will return to the wild and leave the city life behind. Trapping and relocating the bear is not an option, he said.
According to the TWRA, it is not the agency’s polity to routinely trap and move bears. “Due to the relatively large home ranges and mobility of bears, there is no place remote enough in Tennessee to relocate bears where they will not have contact with humans,” the TWRA website said. “Secondly, by moving bears often all that is accomplished is just the problem has been moved and not solve.”