FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — If you're out and about in Forsyth County on Thursday, beware the possibility of a run-in with bears.
The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office said on Facebook that there have been "several reports" of bear sightings.
The sheriff's office said it had received reports of the bears around Majors Road and Post Road, an intersection near several businesses including Cherry Street Brewing at Vickery Village.
11Alive contacted the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which also confirmed bear sightings a few miles away at Bentley Ridge Drive. DNR also said there was an earlier sighting about eight miles from Bentley Ridge of what may be the same bear in the area of Pooles Mill Elementary School.
DNR offers notes on how the agency approaches sightings.
Black bears are the only bears found in the state, according to Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The agency's wildlife resources division said they live in three distinct regions in the state:
- North Georgia mountains
- Along the Ocmulgee River drainage in central Georgia
- Around the Okefenokee Swamp in southeast Georgia
Georgia's DNR said these bears typically live in forested areas and can live between eight to 15 years. They can grow up to 6 feet in length.
If bears are spotted in your area, here are steps you can take to be safe, according to wildlife experts.
- NEVER FEED OR APPROACH BEARS: Feeding bears (intentionally or unintentionally) trains them to approach homes and people for more food. Bears will defend themselves if a person gets too close, so don’t risk your safety and theirs!
- SECURE FOOD, GARBAGE AND RECYCLING: Food and food odors attract bears so don’t reward them with easily available food or garbage.
- REMOVE BIRD FEEDERS WHEN BEARS ARE ACTIVE: Birdseed and other grains have a high calorie content making them very attractive to bears. The best way to avoid conflicts with bears is to remove feeders.
- NEVER LEAVE PET FOOD OUTDOORS: Feed outdoor pets portion sizes that will be completely eaten during each meal and then remove leftover food and food bowl. Securely store these foods so nothing is available to bears.
- CLEAN AND STORE GRILLS: After you use an outdoor grill, clean it thoroughly and make sure that all grease and fat is removed. Store cleaned grills and smokers in a secure area that keeps bears out.
- ALERT NEIGHBORS TO BEAR ACTIVITY: Share news with your friends and neighbors about recent bear activity and how to avoid bear conflicts. Bears have adapted to living near people; are you willing to adapt to living near bears?
For more information about what to do if you come in contact with a bear visit here or call the Georgia DNR at 706-557-3350.