DUNN, N.C. (WNCN) – Dunn residents are taking precautions after a police officer spotted a black bear in Dunn over the weekend.
Officer John Parker took video of the bear while he was out on patrol late Saturday evening. The bear was spotted near the I-95 and U.S. 421 intersection in Dunn.
The video, which has been viewed on Facebook over 55,000 times, shows Parker shining a light on the bear and calling for it like a dog, saying “come on boy.”
“I was thinking, ‘John, what is going through your mind? A bear, really?” said Deborah Parker, the officer’s mom.
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“When he shined the light the second time, I didn’t see the bear again and I thought he could jump up and claw you. Then I felt better after I saw it running away,” she added.
The news spread quickly in town and many residents say they’re now taking certain precautions such as keeping their pets inside and keeping an eye out when they go outside at night.
“It’s pretty crazy,” said Eric Thornton. “I’ve lived in rural Harnett County and yeah you expect to see bears there but not in the city of Dunn.”
Residents say bear sightings are pretty rare in Dunn and the surrounding area. When they do, it’s usually at around this time of the year because it’s mating season.
“I see wild animals walking around all the time here but never seen bears running around in town,” said Hannah Messer.
Wildlife officials say the majority of bears live in the mountain and coastal regions in North Carolina but occasionally wander into residential areas or towns to search for food.
Officials say if the bears are left alone and not fed, the bears will eventually leave the area. The Wildlife Resources Commission recommends the following to prevent problems with bears:
- Secure bags of trash inside cans stored in a garage, basement or other secure area.
- Place trash outside, as late as possible, on trash pick-up days — not the night before. Keep all garbage sites clean.
- If a bear is in the area, remove bird feeders and hummingbird feeders, even those advertised as “bear proof.”
- Avoid “free-feeding” pets outdoors. Do not leave pet foods out overnight. If you must feed pets outdoors, make sure all food is consumed and empty bowls are removed.