Bear creates a scare in Cherokee County

A Cherokee County homeowner and a sheriff’s deputy had a too-close encounter with a black bear this week, with the animal at one point stamping its feet and putting a scare into the humans, authorities said.

The incident happened shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday in the backyard of Kim Fountain's home off Northwoods Drive in Ball Ground, Channel 2 Action News reported.

Fountain, who emailed photos to Channel 2 of the animal coming up the steps of her back porch, said the young bear wouldn’t go away, so she called 911. A Cherokee County Sheriff’s deputy responded.

A brief standoff resulted, with the deputy standing on the back porch and the bear staring back at him from the yard, sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Jay Baker told the AJC in a phone interview.

“The deputy said the bear started stomping the ground aggressively, and that’s when [the deputy]  raised a rifle, but that was to protect the homeowner,” Baker said. “We didn’t want to harm the bear – he raised his firearm just in case the bear charged the homeowner and the deputy.”

The Sheriff’s Office contacted the state Department of Natural Resources to handle the animal. But as DNR was on its way, the bear turned and sauntered off into the woods behind the home.

The bear sighting was the first so far this year in Cherokee County that Baker knew of. But it’s no surprise the animals are turning up now, wildlife experts said. Last summer, one bear in particular made itself at home in the area north of Atlanta. It was sighted repeatedly in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Johns Creek and unincorporated Fulton County near Roswell.

DNR estimates that Georgia is home to at least 5,100 bears. About 4,000 live in North Georgia, up from roughly 1,200 four to five years ago.

During the spring and summer, adult males typically force young males out of their home territory, and the youngsters roam around trying to establish their own territories, according to the DNR’s state bear biologist, Adam Hammond.

If left alone, such “transient bears” eventually return to their traditional habitat in the north Georgia mountains, the Ocmulgee River drainage system in central Georgia or the Okefenokee Swamp in southeast Georgia.

In the meantime, Hammond advises people to leave all bears alone, stay a safe distance away, and never – under any circumstance – feed the bear. The last point could require putting away barbecue grills when not in use, keeping pet food indoors and taking down bird feeders from April to November if bears frequent the area.

“Attempting to ‘tree’ or corner a bear compromises both the safety and welfare of the public and the bear,” Hammond said in a DNR news release.