Bears migrating further south this summer

News 12 First at Five/ June 13, 2014

MCCORMICK COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW) -- A bear is causing trouble for neighbors in Plum Branch.

DNR biologists say there have been several bear sightings reported around the county, possibly the same one. This may not be the only bear we find far from home this year.

DNR officials say bears eat a lot of acorns and the acorn population up in the mountains was really pitiful this season, so they're seeing bears migrate a little further south than normal to find food.

Victoria Durant runs a daycare out of her home. She got quite the surprise earlier this week when her neighbor called.

"She was like, 'A bear is in my yard headed your way! And I'm like what? A bear?," Durant said.

"At the time, my heart started pounding because I knew the kids were out there playing so I called Vicky," neighbor Alice Hicks said.

She hurried the kids inside, looked out the window, and sure enough, a full grown bear wandered into her yard. Durant spotted the bear just feet from the kids playground right along the tree line. She's been afraid to let them outside to play ever since.

"The kids keep asking me, Can we go outside? I'm like, No, I'm sorry," she said.

The bear doesn't seem to want to leave the neighborhood . It actually woke Durant up Thursday morning.

"I heard this moan, and I was like, am I dreaming? So I sat up and it was still going, and the dogs started barking, so I guess they heard it as well," she said.

Her neighbors have heard and spotted it too.

"The neighbor behind me, they have a dog and they say they saw him trying to get into the dog food," she said.

Hicks says the bear made himself right at home in her yard.

"I never seen a bear I've never been to the zoo but the zoo came to me," Hicks said.

She's worried to let her little dog, Poppy, outside.

"I told him he would be a little snack," she said.

If you spot a bear around the area, call DNR to report it. They keep up with how many sightings to decide if they need to trap and relocate. They also suggest making a lot of noise to spook it away, of course when you do this, make sure you aren't close. Take away all food sources, garbage, pet food, and even bird seed and deer corn, those are high in protein and bears love it. If you have a garden, pick any berries that bloom. Bears love to eat those too. DNR says bears usually move on when the food is gone, so they only trap and relocate if the bear sticks around a long time.

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