Two more sightings of a bear were reported in Harrison on Thursday, this time in the area of Woodland Heights.
A Harrison Police log shows a woman called about 1 p.m. Thursday to report seeing a bear in the area of South Walnut and East Rogers. She said the bear ran back into a wooded area when it saw her.
About 30 minutes later, Jim Mulanax called to report a bear had tried to get into a shop building on South Walnut, not far from the first sighting, but he was able to scare it off.
His wife, Fredia, told the Daily Times that Jim was sitting in the shop building when the bear poked its head into the doorway. She said Jim yelled at the bear and it fled back into the woods, which are plentiful in that area.
As it turns out, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officials recommend doing what Jim did.
They say bears are not overly energetic and are generally looking for an easy meal, like garbage or pet foods left outside. They say people shouldn’t hesitate to let it know it’s not wanted in the area by yelling and making noise. People don’t want a bear in town and it probably doesn’t want to be around people. Bears are generally not a problem other than a nuisance unless they lose their innate fear of humans.
Freida said the bear had been spotted in the area for a week or more as of Friday. The area is heavily wooded. The police log indicated the information would be passed on to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Keith Stephens, AGFC chief of communications, said people are reporting bears in town in various parts of the state.
“It’s not unusual at all,” Stephens said. The AGFC will go in to capture and relocate a bear that has become a problem, but they’re not trapping all wild animals in a city’s corporate limits. Arkansas is known for its diversity in wildlife.
Stephens said it’s important to remember that bears are looking for food. If they find a place where they can get free meals, they will stay around.
The following are tips from experts regarding ways to prevent conflicts with bears and to help keep them wild.
• Never feed or approach bears. Intentionally feeding bears or allowing them to find anything that smells or tastes like food teaches bears to approach homes and people looking for more. Bears will defend themselves if a person gets too close, so don’t risk your safety and theirs.
• Secure food, garbage and recycling. Food and food odors attract bears, so don’t reward them with easily available food, liquids or garbage.
• Remove bird feeders when bears are active. Birdseed and grains have lots of calories, so they’re very attractive to bears. Removing feeders is the best way to avoid creating conflicts with bears.
• Never leave pet food outdoors. Feed pets indoors when possible. If you must feed pets outside, feed in single portions and remove food and bowls after feeding. Store pet food where bears can’t see or smell it.
• Clean and store outdoor grills. Clean grills after each use and make sure that all grease, fat and food particles are removed. Store clean grills and smokers in a secure area that keeps bears out.
• Alert neighbors to bear activity. See bears in the area or evidence of bear activity? Tell your neighbors and share info on how to avoid bear conflicts. Bears have adapted to living near people; now it’s up to us to adapt to living near bears.