HICKORY, N.C. – Wildlife officials are currently working to contain a wild black bear that was spotted roaming in downtown Hickory Wednesday morning.
The bear, which was identified as a male, was spotted in the back parking lot of an ABC Store on 1st Avenue SW near a post office. NC Wildlife crews were called to the scene to contain the bear.
Officials at the scene said their goal is to keep the bear up a tree until nightfall. At that point, officials can shut down the roads and get the bear back into the woods without incident.
Bear encounters are on the rise across North Carolina this season. In Asheville, the U.S. Forest Service is ordering anyone within 1,000 feet of Avery Creek Road to store food in a bear-resistant container. On Tuesday, a bear was spotted near Francis Bailey Middle School in Huntersville.
"They are transient bears, most likely," says Danny Ray, a district biologist for the Wildlife Resources Commission. He says the spike in sightings could be due to a spike in hormones.
"June is the peak of breeding season for bears," says Ray.
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