CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC)– A black bear was spotted walking through at least two separate neighborhoods Friday morning, damaging backyards in its path.
Jodie and Eric Schorr captured video of the bear roaming through their backyard. In the video, the bear walks across the yard, climbs over their fence and then heads next-door.
Melissa Dunn and George Henderson were walking their dog, when they were alerted by the Schorr’s via a text message. They told them that the unexpected guest was headed into their yard.
“We get home thinking maybe there’s a bear back here or someplace so we’re looking physically for the bear. We didn’t see it, but it had been here,” Henderson said.
The couple found their bird feeders bent to the ground in the front and backyard. After walking through the woods, the bear had some fun in the garden. Henderson and Dunn told 8news, some of their plants were destroyed. The bear also ate a majority of their bird seed and knocked down their suet cake.
This was a rare occurrence for Dunn and Henderson who have lived at their home for more than 10 years.
“We’ve been here 10, almost 11 years. We have always put out bird feeders. We’re here on five acres in the woods. We’ve got a lot of creatures as well,” Dunn said. “We’re used to squirrels and we’re used to raccoons, but we have never in all that time, ever seen or heard of a bear in this particular neighborhood.”
David Grast, the Richmond District Wildlife Biologist for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, said the state is considered a bear habitat. Every year between mid-May and mid-July, female bears will kick their cubs out of the nest. The cubs will then be on the hunt for a new home. The cubs are not only running from larger bears, but they’re looking for food.
Grast told 8News, during this time residents should get rid of their bird feeders because bears are drawn to them.
“Birds do not need to be fed this time of year,” Grast said.
Residents should also secure trash at all times and get rid of food. If grills cannot be stored, it’s advised to turn it on and let it burn until there is no longer a smell of food. According to Grast, if bears smell food and are fed, they will linger.
The Virginia Department of Wildlife said the areas where sightings would be the most common in Central Virginia are parts of Chesterfield County, North Dinwiddie and Hanover County.
Although extremely uncommon, if a resident ever came in contact with a bear, they’re advised to walk away slowly. Experts told 8news, that residents should not run and keep eye contact. If someone is within 25 yards of the bear, they should make themselves look ‘big,’ and make loud noises, while continuing to back away.