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FORT PAYNE, Ala. (WHNT) — New “bear-proof” trash cans could prevent bears roaming through DeSoto State Park from causing a mess.

According to a social media post made by the park, the new trash cans were added to the picnic area and primitive campground — with more on the way.

A statement from the park read, “With the growing population of Alabama’s state mammal in our area, we are considered ‘bear country’; and want to make sure they stay wild! Bear sightings are still fairly rare in the park, and these shy animals are easily spooked away.”

(DeSoto State Park |

Bear sightings aren’t incredibly common in northeast Alabama, but they still happen. The most recent sighting in Fort Payne was reported by News 19 in July.

During that sighting, Amanda Fortner Mitchell, a woman living in the Lookout Mountain area of Fort Payne said the bear showed up while she was doing yard work and her cat alerted her to its presence. Mitchell said the bear was around 20 years from where she was standing.

Additionally, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADNCR) is reportedly continuing to track a trio of black bear cubs in the area. The young bears were spotted in Mentone and had collars placed on them.

That project is also expanding into other parts of the state, according to state officials.

Learn more about black bear sightings in Alabama and tips for living alongside them at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ website here.