Black bear reportedly spotted in Martinsville, Henry County

If you see a bear, do not approach it

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Martinsville animal control officer EC Stone said black bear sightings in southwest Virginia are not unheard of.

"When I get bear calls and we have bear sightings, we try to just push the bear slowly back out into the big woods out in the county somewhere," Stone said.

The most recent examples he could remember happened in the spring of 2016.

He said he spent an entire day chasing a black bear around the city.

"It got so tired at one point that it laid right down in the Roselawn Cemetery and took about a 10-minute break," Stone recalled.

This latest reported sighting was on Mulberry Road.

Stone said sightings have been reported there before.

A bear was also reportedly spotted on Governor's Lane in Ridgeway.

Jim Harris has lived on Mulberry Road for 14 years and was surprised to learn that a bear may be in the area.

"I haven't seen any or heard of any," Harris said. "It's going to make me keep a close eye out for them, for sure."

He said he would slowly try to get away if he sees a bear.

"I would stop and sort of walk backwards," Harris explained.

Stone said that's a good idea and also suggests making loud noises, waving your arms in the air, and maintaining eye contact with the bear.

You should not immediately try to shoot the bear, though.

"Not within the city limits, unless it's a dire emergency, can you discharge a firearm," Stone said.

Martinsville resident Barbara English said the reported bear sighting doesn't bother her, but even so, she's not going to bear the risk of trying to get up close with one if it comes around.

"I'd stay in the house. If I saw one, I probably would report it," English said.

To help deter bears from coming around, food, such as pet food, and trash should not be left outside if possible.

About the Author: