Police officers in Sandy Springs and Dunwoody on Aug. 17 and Aug. 18 reported sightings of small black bear roaming the area. On Aug. 17, Sandy Springs police reported a bear in the area of Hunters Branch and Spalding Drive. On Aug. 18, Dunwoody Police received a report of a bear on Ashwood Parkway and the bear was seen crossing Meadow Lane.

People who see the animal are encouraged to call 911. Melissa Cummings, spokeswoman with the wildlife division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, said the sightings are likely of the same bear and said the department believes its a young male trying to establish its own territory.

“They are circumventing the territory of larger bears,” Cummings said. “They’re trying to get back to larger habitat to establish their own territory and unfortunately sometimes that takes them through places where we’re not comfortable with them being, like our backyard.”

Cummings said eventually the bear will move out of residential areas. In the meantime, residents shouldn’t offer him incentives to stick around.

She said don’t feed it, obviously, but also make sure garbage cans are secure, grills are clean and pet food is unavailable. Also, take down any bird feeders. She said bears are notorious for snacking on bird seed and the department believes the bear may have visited a local bird feeder.

She said the department usually doesn’t get involved unless the bear is cornered. The ideal situation would be for the bear to go back to his natural habitat, uninhibited by humans and not distracted by a free, easy meal.

“Anything you can do to prevent them from hanging around would be best,” she said. “He’ll keep moving.”

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com