Hungry bears on the move

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No, not the bathroom for female bears. Warnings of bear sightings are posted at Mint Springs. Staff photo No, not the bathroom for female bears. Warnings of bear sightings are posted at Mint Springs. Staff photo

A black bear near the Barracks Road Shopping Center created a frenzy June 21 as excited grocery shoppers caught a glimpse of the furry mammal behind Harris Teeter. The bear ventured toward a construction site off Arlington Boulevard and ran into the woods when police arrived.

Bear sightings this time of year are not unusual, says Bob Crickenberger, Albemarle director of parks & recreation, who has gotten about a half dozen reports of bears on hiking trails in 2016. “Their food supply is limited so they move in search of food, which means trash cans are an easy target,” he says. So are dumpsters, which the parks lock to discourage foraging.

Mint Springs Valley Park in Crozet gets the most sightings of county parks, followed by the more remote Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve. As a safety precaution, bathroom doors at Mint Springs recently were posted with bear warnings.

Encounters with black bears are generally harmless, unless pets are not kept on leash. Crickenberger recalls one instance of a dog injured when it charged a bear, and he reminds residents that county regs require dogs to be on a leash.

And if you see cubs, he suggests, “I would back pedal.”

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