Black Bears Hanging Around Old Trail

From a reader:

My husband and I just moved to Crozet this March and enjoy your blog. We just moved into our house that is close to the trail connecting Wayland’s Grant with Old trails. In the past two weeks we’ve had about 4 bear sightings on this path. I called the local game warden and was told they will move on when there is no food – I am not sure where/what food source they have found here. I’m also not sure how many bears are around, but just this past friday (4/2), we took this picture of a little cub in our driveway. I’ve told our neighbors, but it might be good to let all the people who use the trail that this bear/s hasn’t moved on yet! No signs yet of a mam bear, but I am pretty sure the bear I saw from the distance wasn’t a cub so I think there is more than one.

Black Bear in Old Trail

And when I asked permission to post:

You can definitely post, I think it is a good idea to let people know and so they can secure any trash or food they may have outside- The first sighting was by my sitter when she took my son for a walk on 3/24. Then my sister and I saw another bear in the same area (this is in the Creekside neighborhood on the trail that goes behind the homes) on 3/28. I thought the bear/s had moved on but this photo is from 4/2 and in our yard instead of on the trail.

Update 7 April 2010The Newsplex saw the story here and then did what reporters do – interviewed a bunch of people and discovered it’s an orphaned bear.

People are on the lookout for an orphaned bear cub in Crozet. It seems the furry creature is creating quite a stir in the Old Trail subdivision.

People are being told not to pet the bear or go near it, even though it’s a tiny cub, only about forty pounds. The bear has become a fixture in the western Albemarle County development.

“When I left that day it was right at the edge drinking,” says Sandra Terrell. The nanny was taking ten-month-old Sammy for a stroll in the neighborhood when she heard a loud noise.

“Something went running across the bushes. I thought it was a fat cat, but when I looked over at the tree it was a baby bear,” says Terrell.

She says it’s the same bear Sammy’s parents saw in their driveway just days ago.

“I startled it, and it startled us, and when I looked over there, the bear was hugging the tree and turned and looked at me,” says Terrell. The Newsplex has learned the bear is an orphan yearling. It’s too old to be considered a cub, and too young to be out on its own. The bear’s parents likely died, forcing it to fend for itself.

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19 Replies to “Black Bears Hanging Around Old Trail”

  1. I saw that cub on the afternoon of the 28th crossing over Jarman’s gap heading towards Bargamin Park. Also saw no mama bear.

  2. From an email comment:

    Please don’t freak out because you saw some bears. They live here, too, and that’s a good thing indicating a relatively healthy environment, not a bad thing. Bears are omnivores which means they eat everything. They are also well known for eating garbage so your garbage needs to be dealt with smartly. Buy or build a lockable, sturdy enclosure for your garbage cans. Put your garbage cans out for collection as close to collection time as possible the morning of collection, not the night before. Don’t store any food outside. If you have dumpsters, close the doors/lids and make sure your neighbors do the same. The bears, as with any wild animals, are not really interested in confrontations with humans. Don’t bother them and they won’t bother you. If you see a cub that means the mother is nearby. Don’t approach the cub thinking of it like a cuddly teddy bear. The mother bear may perceive you as a threat and act defensively of her cub. That would not be her fault, but yours for not avoiding close contact with the cub. Watch from inside and wait for them to go away. If the bears are hanging around residential neighborhoods they are probably looking for and finding garbage or food stored outside that is easy pickings. Everybody has to act smart and preventatively or the bears will continue to be seen in residential neighborhoods. They would prefer to stay more hidden in the wild, but will not turn down an easy meal of garbage or food stored outside. If you do happen to see them ransacking your garbage don’t go out and try to scare them away. Leave them alone and then take care of securing your garbage in a sturdy enclosure for next time. If you know what to do and what not to do with regard to bears and other wild animals you’re going to be alright and so will they. Advise all your neighbors to follow the same advice.

  3. We are so saddened to find out that this bear was put down due to ignorance! I hope that folks can learn how to respect the local wildlife and remember “a fed bear is a dead bear”

  4. April 8, 2010

    The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries confirmed Thursday afternoon that the orphaned black bear yearling cub that was spotted roaming around Old Trail Village in Crozet was euthanized because it had become too accustomed to humans.

    The yearling cub has not been seen around the Crozet subdivision since it was photographed on Friday, April 2. Officials say the cub was caught that day.

    “Well, I’m sort of glad because of the neighborhood and a lot of kids are playing here. But just to take it to a safe environment, not to harm it or anything,” said Sandra Terrell, who spotted the bear last week.

    CBS19 Bianca Spinosa reports the healthy little bear made a home for itself in the Old Trail area because it was being fed by construction workers on their lunch break. While the workers obviously meant well, feeding bears in the Commonwealth of Virginia is actually illegal.

    Most bears fed by humans have to be euthanized.

    Game officials say putting down a bear is a last resort. Bears are naturally shy and tend to avoid people, but once they are fed they become quite aggressive.

    Specialists say they had to put the yearling cub down or else it would continue to approach people for food, which could create a dangerous situation if young children are around.

    Still, Old Trail residents wish there was another solution.
    From newsplex website..
    “I’d just like to think he would be captured and something done with the bear. Just relocate it. I hate to hear that he was possibly euthanized. It’s horrible to think of that,” said Todd Pullen.

    Officials say in most cases they relocate the bear, however in this situation the little creature had just become too accustomed to humans.

  5. I agree but which stupidity are we talking about. Putting a bear to sleep,
    or, destroying the living space of the bear to construct tract housing which
    cause wildlife to either leave or perish. It is a simple cause and effect.

  6. Wildlife will always be in contact with the perimeter of human development regardless if it’s a small subdivision, or a mega ‘subdivision’ like Charlottesville – it will always occur. You can only educate people how to behave around wildlife.

  7. I’ve heard several reliable reports that in neighborhoods that were formerly forested or other green fields, especially in the Western half of the county, that there tend to be a lot of bears and other animals wandering around not sure where to go.

    As development in the Crozet area comes closer and closer to the Shenendoah, I think this will continue to be a bigger issue. It’s one more in a whole long list of reasons that we should do more to encourage redevelopment, instead of green field development.

  8. I was the person who emailed the post above that starts: “Please don’t freak out because you saw some bears….” Too late now obviously, but I feel sure that if a licensed, qualified wildlife rehabilitation specialist had been allowed to train the bear to live in the wild and reestablish a healthy fear of humans in it that the bear could have lived out it’s life and been no threat to humans. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries took the easy way out. Handling of this issue should not have been up to that department anyway. Since the word ‘Game’ is right in their name it is obvious that the best interests of the bear were not uppermost in their minds. The Virginia Department of Environmental Conservation is who should have handled this.

  9. I just checked and while there is no department by that exact name (Virginia Department of Environmental Conservation) in Virginia, there is one called Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (http://www.deq.state.va.us) and they are the ones who should have handled this.

  10. I hope that the company who employs the workers that were feeding the bear takes this opportunity to educate their employees on outdoor ethics.

  11. Outdoor ethics, hah… If people just would of left this animal alone it would of left. If you are that desperate to attach responsibility, blame
    yourselves. Oh man, a wild animal, gotta tell someone, gotta take his
    picture, gotta, gotta, gotta, whoops, he’s dead. Gotta educate, gotta blame, gotta google, blah, blah, blah. Tract housing destroys natural
    areas. A house on two acres, far less damaging. Don’t worry, maybe the
    momma bear will come around looking for her cub…

  12. This story breaks my heart, a young, healthy bear killed by humans because he trusted them. He should have been taken to a park or zoo, like Maymont.

  13. At the Earth Day Fair sponsored by Sunspots in Staunton I spoke to a woman from The Wildlife Center of Virginia (http://www.wildlifecenter.org) — a wildlife rehabilitation facility located in nearby Waynesboro serving all of Virginia — who had a booth there. I told her the story of this bear cub which she had not heard about. They have experience with all kinds of wildlife including bears. She informed me that The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is the agency that has been designated by the state (or has assumed the responsibility for these matters at any rate), not The Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (http://www.deq.state.va.us) as would be appropriate as I commented before. Had an agency or facility such as them or The Wildlife Center of Virginia (or both) been at least consulted in the matter given their expertise rather than an agency whose slant is killing animals for sport this story probably would have had a different, more appropriate ending. The worst case scenario, had the bear not have been able to be rehabilitated to fear and avoid humans and taught to hunt rather than scavenge for food, should have been placement in a zoo, but that outcome would have been very unlikely had the rehabilitation center been allowed to do what they do and do well.

  14. I hope that Old Trail has learned a valuable lesson from the untimely death of this cub, so that the next time this happens (and it probably will), that it will handle the removal of the bear more humanly. I frequently run and walk through his former habitat, and it used to bring me a lot joy. Now, I will be sad and mourn his loss when I pass through his former home.

  15. Ashley,
    Not sure what you mean by Old Trail learning a lesson…the residents and folks who use the trails and neighborhood had nothing to do with the demise of the bear. Facts are facts, construction workers were feeding the bear. Guilt by association is never a good argument.

  16. My apologies to Old Trail. I assumed that the Old Trail Association was the one who decided what should be done with the bear (killing it vs. rehabilitating or relocating it to a zoo) by calling The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and not asking it to consult The Wildlife Center of Virginia for other options. I am shocked that The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries took it upon themselves to do what they did without consulting with the OT Association first! That is not cool!

    If the OT Association has any control over how a situation like this is handled in the future, I would suggest trying a more humane approach the next time and to educate the construction workers and residents of OT on how to properly dispose of food. This would help the public relations image of OT, so that people don’t assume OT is guilty out of association.

  17. Actually, it may be even better for the OT Association to be proactive and to set a protocol with The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries as to how it would like a similar situation to be handled should it get called by a resident of OT without the Association’s prior knowledge.

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