A wandering bear that made its way from Thomson to Grovetown during the weekend ended up behind a Japanese restaurant off Bobby Jones Expressway in Augusta early today. Wildlife authorities were hoping to capture and relocate it.
"We were close, but he got away," said biologist Vic VanSant of the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division.
The large bear, presumed to be a male seeking new territory, was last seen behind the Miyabi restaurant on Augusta West Parkway, where it apparently was intrigued by the smell of foods being prepared at the site.
"Bears are very attracted by funny odors," Mr. VanSant said. "He ended up behind the restaurant and was looking through some trash."
Wildlife authorities typically allow migrating bears to continue their journey unless they end up in a populated area where they are more likely to cause problems or get hit by a car, he said.
"We stayed until about 1 a.m. trying to find him," he said. "But he just went back into the woods and disappeared."
The bear was also seen at a residence off Wrightsboro Road, where he inexplicably picked up a folding canvas chair, played with it for a few minutes and then carried it off. "We found it out in the woods."
The bear was seen near Thomson during the July Fourth weekend and turned up in a Grovetown backyard on Saturday, where it drank from a birdbath and emptied a birdfeeder of several pounds of seed.
"While I was painting my bedroom, I glanced out the window and saw an almost unbelievable sight," said Meredith Cullen, who lives in the Euchee Creek development parallel to Wrightsboro Road. "He came for a drink from the birdbath and ate the seed from my feeder, which he ripped off the tree."
After emptying the feeder and eating all the seed, he reached for a second feeder on the tree, she said. "I cracked the back door a bit and told him. 'All right, that's enough'. He looked at me and then turned and walked into the woods. It was an enjoyable experience."
The bear is the second one to turn up in Augusta this summer. Two weeks ago Mr. VanSant and others relocated a different bear that was treed by dogs at the 4H Camp off Mike Padgett Highway. That bear was released in north Georgia.