CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — It’s pretty typical to see a variety of wildlife on Pleasure Island. Birds, deer, and raccoons are critters you’ll likely come across, but what about a black bear? Carolina Beach residents said one appeared in their neighborhood over the weekend.
“There has been a variety of wild animals around but nobody has seen a bear down here before now,” said resident Ronald Fellers.
While bear sightings are quite slim in general, the chances of seeing one at the coast are even lower. Donna Johnston captured a photo of one walking down Canal Drive Sunday morning.
Johnston was one of few who saw the bear firsthand but many are getting wind of this unusual visit.
“I had my doubts but once I saw the picture, it was astonishing,” Fellers said.
“That’s unbelievable that there was a bear in here and I’m going to be a lot more careful walking around at night and in the morning so when I’m on my strolls I’m going to be looking out for a bear,” resident Dale Walters said.
Chris Kent with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission says bears will come out from their den in the late winter and early spring and are typically looking for food.
“There’s not a lot of natural food sources on the landscape,” Kent, Coastal Regional Wildlife Biologist, said. “The berries aren’t ripe yet, you know agricultural crops, corn, soybeans, things like that aren’t ripe yet and so they’re hungry. They’re looking for an easy food source.”
An easy food source is your trash can. Kent says make sure it is secured.
While the bear appeared to be young, Kent says Mother bear is likely not around.
“Those bears would have recently separated from their mothers,” Kent said. It’s their first season on their own so finding food is a little more challenging for them and they are just trying to find a way in life essentially.”
Carolina Beach State Park Ranger Chris Helms says he has never seen a bear at the park during his time there, but it’s possible it could have swam across Snow’s Cut or the Cape Fear River.
“A bear is pretty unusual,” Walters said. “I mean it could have come from the state park or whatever but I’m going to walk on the beach side not the bay side.”
Carolina Beach Police said they did respond after receiving multiple reports of a bear sighting but did not see one while patrolling the area.