450 pound black bear lives in Roanoke backyard - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

450 pound black bear lives in Roanoke backyard

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A Roanoke County family says they're prisoners in their own home after a bear moved into their backyard.

It's just one of several bear sightings reported in our area over the last few weeks.

In fact, it's the second bear found in that Bonsack neighborhood. The game warden has already captured a 250 pound bear from that area that the families there reported seeing.

Still, there is another bear that has made the neighborhood its home.

"It's really just turned into a nightmare," Tommy Chambers said.

It's an estimated four hundred fifty pound nightmare. The couple has a a picture of  the bear pictured only feet away from Tommy chambers and his fiance's Ashley's home where they live with their small son.

They've been living with the bear for a little over a month now,seeing him almost every night.

Tommy showed us where the bear has littered their back yard with footprints and even napped in their flower bed, just feet away from their backdoor.

Every night he comes out from behind their fence. Behind the fence is an open field located behind the Bonsack Kroger shopping center. It's a place you wouldn't expect to find a bear.

And if you walk back in the woods a little ways you'll see what he's made a snack out of. And judging by the layout, he's got a birds eye view of what being put out for his next dinner.

"Every night now you have to flip on every light in your house to take your dog outside or when you get up in the morning to go to work and it's still dark you are scared to open your garage because you don't know what's going to be there,"Chambers said.

"There's been several times I've taken my dog out at one or two o'clock in the morning and the bear is running across the back yard when I open the back door."

Bear sightings are becoming more frequent this time of year . Just days ago a black bear was hit with a car traveling on I-581 in Roanoke.

Wsls wanted to know why they are coming out more frequently, especially now in urban areas so we reached out to bear expert Jaime Sajecki who says that bears are preparing to hibernate and are searching for as much food as possible.

"The most important thing for them to be eating typically this time of year is acorns and probably as everyone has noticed there has not been a whole lot of acorns that have been produced this time of year, " Sajecki said. " So bears are just looking for whatever they can find."

And what they are finding most easily on the menu is in your back yard.

Sajecki says that owners can scare bears away from safe distances by shouting, using electric fences, throwing stones or shooting them in the back with paintball guns.

Owners should keep trash inside until pickup day and empty all bird feeders, as well as remembering to clean their outdoor grills.

While Tommy and Ashley have been doing all the above , it's going to take the entire neighborhood to get rid of their bear problem.

"Any given night he is getting pizza boxes, fast food, leftovers that get thrown out, he is definitely eating well," Chambers said.

And until he doesn't find those meals , this black bear is here to stay.

If you have experienced bears in your neighborhood send us a picture. Email reporter Rachel  Lucas at rlucas@wsls.com


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