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Friday August 19th, 2022 3:30AM

Bear spotted in Alpharetta, Gainesville continuing journey through Georgia

By Austin Eller News Director

Officials say a black bear that was spotted in downtown Gainesville on Saturday, and in Alpharetta near Avalon about a week prior, has continued its journey through Georgia.

Adam Hammond, the state black bear biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division, said a tracking collar on the bear pinged just north of Commerce as of Monday.

Hammond said Georgia has three populations of bears, but this bear, a female, is a little different because it has a tracking collar around its neck.

"It was collared in Tennessee by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park biologist ... and I understand it was relocated from a campground in the park," Hammond said. "Since that time, it has made some tremendously large movements. It's traveled into Georgia, into South Carolina, into North Carolina, back into Tennessee and then back down to Georgia."

Hammond said black bears can travel large distances, but this bear's movements in particular are a little abnormal.

"Females tend to move smaller distances, and on average their home ranges are much smaller than a male," Hammond said. "However, whenever you relocate animals, sometimes it causes them to do things a little differently and take these large walkabouts."

Hammond said there has not been any indication that the bear has endangered anyone in Georgia so far. 

"She's basically just a bear being a bear, minus the fact that she continues to run into food sources along the way," Hammond said.

Hammond said keep your distance if you spot this bear or any other black bear and let it go about its business. He also said avoiding leaving any food outside, as the bear may become accustomed to eating human-provided food, something which could escalate into a problem down the line.

If you do spot any worrisome behavior from the bear, Hammond recommends reporting that information to your local Georgia DNR office.

For more information about bears and how to coexist with bears, visit BearWise.org.

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