Bear Creates Stir in S. P.
At first glance, Bailey Vaughan thought the animal lurking on his property was a large dog.
It was just after 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Vaughan and his children - Emerson, 2, and Lilly, 8 months - were in the backyard of Vaughan's home on Ridge Street near New York Avenue when he spotted something on his property on the other side of his fence.
"I looked at it, and it looked at me, and I thought, 'My gosh, it's a freaking bear,''' he said.
Vaughan hustled his children into the house, and in the commotion, he thinks he spooked the bear, which ran away.
"It got from my house to May Street in a couple of seconds," he said. "It was fast."
Vaughan said he has lived in Moore County since 1981, and this is the first time he has ever seen a bear roaming loose in Moore County.
"It definitely made for an interesting morning," he said.
Blocks away, Pam Francis was on the front porch of her Ashe Street home looking for her cat, when she spotted the four-legged intruder.
"Police (cars) were going round and round the neighborhood," she said. "I thought a store got robbed, because that's happened before, and then a bear walks across the neighbor's lot."
The bear eventually climbed a tree on Ashe Street, on property owned by Carey and Lisa Tilson, and remained there for about five hours. Those who saw the bear estimated it to weigh between 200 and 400 pounds.
"It was big," Francis' son, Matthew, said. "I've been bear hunting, and I have never seen a bear that big."
Southern Pines police officers reportedly responded to a bear sighting a few weeks ago but didn't find the animal.
As word of the bear spread, a small crowd gathered on Ashe Street, forcing police to close the street and disperse the crowd.
"It was a constant flow of cars, onlookers and photographers," Pam Francis said.
The Francises said the bear vacated its perch about 3:30 p.m.
"It was an hour and a half before dusk when it moseyed down the tree, got a drink from the water we left it and then wandered off," Matthew Francis said.
Sgt. Mark Dutton, of the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission, said his office has received several reports of bear sightings in the last few weeks.
"This is typically the time of year that young bears move through the area," Dutton said. "They are not going to stay."
Dutton said anyone who sees a bear is asked to call the authorities.
Residents are encouraged to stay away from bears and not to feed them. Trash cans placed outside or in open areas should be secured.
Dutton also advised that residents not leave food out for pets or other wild animals.
This is not the first time a bear has been sighted in Moore County.
In August 2007, three sightings were reported. The first was Aug. 12 at Reservoir Park in Southern Pines, followed two days later by one near the Pinehurst Resort Beach Club.
On Aug. 17, a motion-detecting camera in Jackson Springs photographed a black bear that matched the description of the one involved in previous incidents.
In June 2008, a black bear was seen five times in one day in the Pinehurst area. A week later, a black bear was reported rummaging through a Dumpster at Sandhills Cinema in Southern Pines.
For Pam Francis, one sighting was plenty.
"I avoid camping because I'm scared of bears, and then one walks down the street," Francis said. "It freaked me out."
Contact Tom Embrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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