Multiple residents of a Warner Robins neighborhood have reported seeing a black bear.
The bear sightings were reported Sunday and Monday in an area off North Davis Drive, said Kevin Kramer, regional game management supervisor for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division.
The neighborhood is west of Ga. 247, across from the north end of Robins Air Force Base.
Lonnie Robinson, who lives on Oak Avenue, saw the bear twice Sunday afternoon wandering a vacant lot across from his house. He said a friend was waiting for him on the front porch when his friend called out to him.
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"He said 'Look across the street, see the bear?' I thought he was jiving," Robinson recalled as he stood in front his home Tuesday. "I looked across the street and saw it was a real bear."
Robinson said he has lived on the street for over 20 years and has seen deer, racoons and opossums, but he had never seen a bear before.
"I couldn't believe it," he said.
He saw the bear again at dusk on Sunday. He said it never seemed threatening or acted like it even saw him.
Kramer was handing out fliers in the area Monday evening to alert people, although black bear attacks are rare. He said if people see a bear they should not run. He urged people to not leave out any food, including garbage, dog food and bird seed. He said people should not put garbage outside, even in a can, until trash pickup day.
Kramer said if a bear gets accustomed to people and regularly wanders a populated area, it could lead to problems. The DNR's goal is to get the bear to stay in the deep forest and not give it any reasons to visit the city.
Accounts of the bear's size have varied. Some have reported seeing cubs. Kramer said it's not known whether the bear is male or female, but he said this is the time of year when a young male would be looking for territory to claim.
Margie McCrary, who also lives on Oak Avenue, said she was headed to the store at about 11 a.m. Sunday when the bear crossed in front of her as she drove down Pike Street near her house.
"It's the first time I'd ever seen a bear," she said.
Bobby "Tazz" Mosley, who lives on North Paul Street, saw the bear about 1 p.m. Monday. He saw the bear walk across the street in front of his house, then it stood up.
"He had to have been six foot," Mosley said. "Then he just walked through the neighborhood like he didn't care. ... I couldn't believe it. I've been here about 30 years and I've never seen anything like this."
Middle Georgia is home to one of three black bear populations in Georgia. Estimates of the local population have varied, but the most recent and thorough study released in 2016 puts it at 458 bears in an area that includes Houston, Twiggs, Bleckley and Pulaski counties.