Bear eludes would-be captors

Columbia County's wandering bear eluded authorities for a third day after traveling through subdivisions along Washington Road in Evans this morning.

“He came down through Woodbridge, swam the pond and headed back out into the woods,” said Linda Fulmer, the county's animal care and control manager. It is likely the bear was pushed by curious residents hoping to catch a glimpse of the animal.

An hour earlier, he was spotted on Rocky Branch Lane in the Chimney Hill area and appeared to be headed toward Wal-Mart. By noon he was meandering through Silverlake subdivision moving west, toward the Savannah River and larger tracts of forest.

The bear's third day of wandering through densely populated Martinez and Evans persuaded authorities to ask that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources attempt to capture and relocate the animal, which is more than 100 miles from its nearest traditional habitat.

Wildlife authorities say the bear is probably a male weighing about 150 pounds and probably 2 years old. Such bears commonly wander portions of the state outside their normal habitat range in late spring and early summer in an instinctive search for new companions.

If the bear is left alone, it will continue to move and eventually will leave the area, said Columbia County Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker.

“DNR has authorized Animal Control to use a tranquilizer that DNR provided to them if they can get close enough…and can do it safely,” she said. “The bear is moving fast. Everyone is asked to please stay away from the area while authorities do their best in this operation.”

DNR sent a team of biologists from the Thomson field office to help try to capture the bear. Typically, wandering bears can be tranquilized only if they climb a tree or enter a confined area, said Vic VanSant, a regional wildlife biologist. The group packed up and left the area about 1 p.m. after the bear could no longer be located.

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