Bear population on rise in commonwealth

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Another black bear sighting had Animal Control searching the woods today. This all unfolded around one o'clock Wednesday afternoon on Woods Edge Road in Chester. The bear wasn't found, but officers ask residents to be on the look-out.

Officers are reminding residents that the bear population is increasing in the commonwealth. They want you to be cautious:

"We did have a report of a bear over by power lines so there's a concern because there's I-95 - you got Jeff Davis, you got a lot of roadway around here," said Animal Control Officer Rob Leinberger.

Officers say bear sightings and bears in the commonwealth are not uncommon. In fact, the bear population in the state is on the rise.

"We've got them all around - they're still out and about," Leinberger said.

And we've seen quite a few in recent months.

"I just ran as quick as I can and I said 'Lord the bear is right here in the yard the bear is right here in the yard'," said Sonia Smith.

Sonia Smith and her neighbors in Petersburg spotted a bear in May. David Mugford says he was seconds away from stepping outside of his Goochland County home to refill his bird feeder when the sight of a black bear stopped him in his tracks last month.

"It scared me pretty bad right instantly but I figured I was safe inside the house," Mugford said.

There have also been recent sightings in Ashland.

"We don't want people to worry but we don't want them to become complacent either. We want you to keep an eye out," Leinberger said.

If a bear crosses your path don't approach it - don't feed it - do call 911.

"Don't leave pet food out, clean up any garbage or things such as that in your yard," said Leinberger.

Officers say an increase in sightings especially in residential neighborhoods is likely because   neighborhoods are encroaching on forested lands and habitats commonly used by wildlife.

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