Neighbors warned after large bear sighted in east Bibb County

Rose Hardwick got quite a surprise as a large black bear darted across Dorothy Drive as she headed to work about 6:30 a.m Tuesday.

She immediately turned around and headed home to her husband.

“My wife was really panicking,” said Kenneth Hardwick. “She said that’s the biggest one she’s ever seen.”

She warned her husband and son to keep the grandchildren inside.

The Hardwicks’ neighbor also saw the bear and called 911.

The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office responded and reported to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources the sighting of an estimated 500-pound black bear that crossed the 3800 block of Dorothy Drive.

Deputy Mike Carr was knocking on doors to warn residents early Tuesday in the neighborhood off Riggins Mill Road.

Sheryl Bloodworth was in bed when the bear ran through her backyard into the woods.

“I just wanted to let you know,” Carr told her. “If you see one and you have a whistle, blow it. ... Don’t approach the bear.” Making a loud noise will likely frighten off the bear, he said.

“It trains them not to come back,” Carr told her.

Bloodworth’s husband saw a bear in the backyard a few years ago, and she drove up on one on Airport Road last year.

“I slammed on brakes, and first I thought, ‘What was that?’ ” Bloodworth said. “Now I’m going to be aware of them, and I need to find my cat.”

As Carr made his way through the neighborhood, he warned others against leaving trash outside.

The sheriff’s office also notified the East Macon Recreation Center on Ocmulgee East Boulevard about the sighting in the adjacent neighborhood.

Garbage cans were overflowing early Tuesday at a picnic pavilion near the center’s trail.

A sign posting rules at the edge of the woods warned “Never scare animals.”

Rose Moreland was out on her morning ritual of getting the newspaper and picking up trash when Carr told her the bear had been on her Brenda Drive property.

“He’s just as scared of folks as they are of him,” she said.

Still, she decided to go back inside.

“He can have this yard. I’m going into my house,” Moreland said. “I don’t want him hugging me or nothing. He won’t know when to let loose.”

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.