Opelika residents on edge after bear sighting - WRBL

Opelika residents on edge after bear sighting

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Some Opelika residents are nervous about going outside after seeing a bear in their neighborhood.

Shelly Holston and her friends were taking an evening walk through the Towne Lake subdivision, when they saw something they've never seen before in their neighborhood.

"It's shocking, I still can't believe it, I saw a bear in the neighborhood," says Holston.

Chuck Browne, the Lee County Extension Coordinator says black bears, like the one spotted in Towne Lake, tend to avoid areas with people. He says seeing a bear in Lee County is very rare.

"They are reclusive," says Browne. "They're not used to people, unlike the ones up in the mountains. The ones near campgrounds can get used to people, but the ones here in Alabama are very reclusive," says Browne.

Experts say there are heavy bear populations up the river chain on the Mobile-Tinsaw Delta, as well as near Fort Payne in Dekalb County, and the bear most likely came from one of these two areas. Although Browne says a black bear sighting is rare in Opelika, it may be becoming more common because of factors like urban sprawl.

"The further out our homes and neighborhoods go into the woods and forest, the more likely we get calls about sightings," says Browne.

This isn't good news for Holston, who's seen the bear twice in the past week. She says she's not going back outside for a walk until the bear is caught.

"The bear shut us down; I ain't going back out until they get this bear," says Holston.

Opelika Police say they have not located the bear, but have stopped actively searching. They have not received a bear spotting call in the past day or so and believe by now; the bear is out of town, which should give Opelika residents some peace of mind.

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