Home Local News Black bear hit, killed in Rockingham

Black bear hit, killed in Rockingham

Rockingham Police respond to a black bear hit and killed on Long Drive Saturday night. Photo by Kenny Melvin - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — A young bear was killed trying to cross the road in the middle of town late Saturday.

The black bear had been reportedly seen on Rockingham Road prior to being fatally hit by a vehicle on Long Drive.

Capt. Brenden Watson of the Richmond County Rescue Squad said the bear was spotted earlier near the squad base on John Street.

Watson said they captured video of the bear, but it ran off toward U.S 74 Bus. and they weren’t able to locate it until it was hit near FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital-Richmond.

Sgt. Kyle Young with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission said the bear is likely a juvenile male.

“Typically at about 1 year of age, male black bears disperse from the home range they were born,” Young said. “What they do is they travel basically to establish a new home range.

“This brings bears through cities or towns and unfortunately they end up crossing a lot of busy highways which can lead to vehicle collisions,” Young added.

The officer said they would collect a tooth and submit it to a biologist with the NCWRC to collect data to keep track of black bear populations across the state, and dispose of the carcass.

On social media, there was also a reported bear sighting near Richmond Senior High School. Judging by the time that sightings was reported, there could be more bears in the county.

(NOTE: The alleged Walmart sighting previously mentioned used a photo from 2021 in Asheville. The reported sighting near the high school was made in a comment. The RO makes no claim as to whether reported sightings are true, just that they were mentioned on social media.)

Berry Patch owner Lee Berry hit and killed a bear on U.S. near Drowning Creek in 2014.

The NCWRC reported in April that there had been a spike in bear sightings this year, adding that the state’s black bear population — and residential footprint — has grown in the past 50 years.

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The estimated bear population in the state has grown from around 1,000 in 1980 to around 9,500 in 2020, according to the latest Annual Bear Report available online.

Black bears live predominantly in the coastal plain and mountain regions of North Carolina, however, the NCWRC said the population is expanding into the piedmont and sightings are “increasingly common” — especially May through July.

Auto collisions account for 7% of black bear deaths, making it the second-leading cause of death behind hunting at 92%, according to the report. Most vehicle mortalities happen in October and November and most of the bears killed in collisions are between 1 and 5 years old.

The report shows there have been one to five reported vehicle-related bear mortalities in Richmond, Lee and Moore counties since 1969, but none reported in Anson, Hoke, Montgomery, Scotland or Stanly.

There were no human-bear interactions in Richmond County reported to NCWRC in 2020.

2020 marked the sixth consecutive year that more than 3,000 bears were harvested, mostly in the north east section of the state, north of the Neuse River and east of Interstate 95; 81 were in the piedmont.

A table in the report shows no bears have been harvested in Richmond, Scotland, Stanly or Moore counties from 2005-2020. Anson had one in 2020, killed by an archer; and Montgomery had one in 2014.

Hyde, Beaufort and Tyrell counties reported the most harvested black bears in 2020, with more than 215 each.

Kenny Melvin assisted in collecting interviews for this story.

NOTE: This story has been edited. 4:07 p.m. 6-5-22.

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