More bears sighted in Suffolk neighborhoods

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

The Great Dismal Swamp’s black bears are pushing further into the Hollywood and Lake Kennedy neighborhoods in search of food sources.

On Friday, citizens were warned by Chief Animal Control Officer Nathaniel Skeeter not to approach the bears that have been wandering out of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

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By Monday afternoon, at least two more bears had been spotted as they wandered through yards in search of food.

Skeeter attributes the sudden appearance of the bears to Hurricane Isabel, saying that the storm destroyed most of their food sources – nuts, berries and corn from the farm fields that edge the swamp. They are venturing into populated areas to find food.

He said that in addition to the White Marsh Road sightings, black bears have been spotted several times in the past week in other residential areas, including Lake Kennedy, Cypress Manor and Nansemond Parkway.

Skeeter said his Friday warning still stands; remove any items from yards that might attract bears such as bird food, fallen fruit, pet food and dirty barbecue grills. Those items can all be considered food for the bears, and Skeeter added, residents should store all trash in containers with lids that can be tightly closed.

He also pointed out that black bears do not normally attack people, and if a bear is spotted citizens should remain calm and keep well away from the animal.

&uot;You never should approach a bear and do not crowd it,&uot; said Skeeter. &uot;Give the animal plenty of space and allow it to escape. Warn others to keep away and bring small children and pets into the house until the bear leaves.&uot;

If a bear is spotted in your neighborhood, you should contact Suffolk Animal Control through police dispatch at 923-2350.