“Juvenile male” black bear sighting expands to Jackson, Limestone, Marshall, Morgan and St. Clair County

WFF is currently working with Auburn University researchers and other state and federal agencies to collect data on the state’s black bear population and movements. This data will be used to make scientific decisions regarding bear management. (Photo by Billy Pope, ADCNR)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries announces Tuesday viewers have seen in North and Central Alabama what WFF call “juvenile males being pushed out of their previous ranges by their mothers and other adult males.”

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources biologists says multiple factors may play a role in the increase of bear population. These factors are detailed as the following: changes in bear distribution, habitat fragmentation, seasonal movement and the summer mating season.

Bears stay around the southern portion of the state and by the Florida border; such as Baldwin, Covington, Escambia, Mobile and Washington County – according to the news release. History notes smaller bear communities have been around the area.

While their presence has increased, a Conservation Outreach Specialist for the Alabama Division of WFF says not to worry.

“While seeing a black bear in Alabama is uncommon and exciting, it is no cause for alarm,” Marianne Hudson said, in the release. “There has never been a black bear attack on a human in Alabama.”

Their introverted personality makes them “secretive and shy animals.”

“If you are lucky enough to see a bear, simply leave it alone,” Hudson added.

The WFF has provided a list of tips of what to do when you see a bear:

• Do not run from the bear.
• Avoid direct eye contact with the bear.
• Encourage the bear to move away by waving your arms and yelling as you slowly back away.
• Make sure the bear has an unobstructed direction to escape.
• In the unlikely event of an attack, fight back. Never “play dead.”
• Never approach or purposely feed a bear.
• Store all food indoors or in a bear-resistant container.
• Do not leave pet food outside overnight.
• Keep trash cans clean and don’t put trash out until the morning of pick up.
• Avoid feeding birds and other wildlife from April to January when bears are most active.

They encourage all spotters to report the sightings, no matter where they are located. WFF states the information helps track bear movement and distribution. You can report the locations at the following places:  local WFF District Office, Black Bear Observation Reporting, or email Thomas Harms at Thomas.Harms@dcnr.alabama.gov.

The Division lastly explains a black bear is “of highest conservation concern” with no hunting season. The penalty is listed as a Class A misdemeanor, with “the potential loss of hunting and fishing license privileges for three years and possible jail time.”

Reports of bears in Chambers, Elmore, Jefferson, Lee, Macon, and Tallapoosa County have been reported the previous years.