Commonwealth Journal

August 16, 2012

A Kodiak Moment

Bears find home in Pulaski County

Commonwealth Journal

Shopville — It’s a “bear” fact. There are bears in Pulaski County.

For urbanites and other uninformed city slickers who may doubt presence of the shaggy carnivora in these parts, ask Robin Daughetee.

Daughetee is a rural mail carrier for the Somerset Post Office, His route takes him through eastern Pulaski County.

On July 31 – it was a Tuesday just after lunch – Daughetee was delivering mail along Elk View Road; that’s off Providence Road between White Lily and Mt. Victory, near Buck Creek.

Suddenly, up in front of his mail-delivery vehicle was what he thought were two large bags of garbage that somebody had carelessly tossed alongside the scenic road.

Daughetee was half right. One of the objects was a bag of garbage. The other object began to move. It must be alive! It was alive! It was a big bear eating garbage!

“I stopped my car and backed up to get close enough to take a picture,” said Daughetee. The bear ambled off the road between two houses and into the woods but not before Daughetee got excellent proof of the sighting with his cell phone camera.

Alan Sidwell, of Sidwell Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation at Dahl, said there is a resident population of black bears in eastern Pulaski County between Shopville and the Rockcastle River.

“There’s not many ... they’re scattered,” said Sidwell. “The reason so many are seen at this time of year is young males are moving around, establishing their own areas.”

Also, Sidwell said the mother bear is trying to rid herself of yearling cubs before she returns to the estrous cycle (heat). Big males also will help her run the cubs away, he noted.

Another reason for bears moving around is the heat and drought of this summer. Bears feed on berries and, because of the drought, they are looking for food, Sidwell said.

Bear sightings are not uncommon in Pulaski County. Over the years this writer has had reports of bears being seen in the Nancy area, at a former roadside park on North U.S. 27, at Shopville near Short Creek, on Reservoir Knob north of town, a carcass alongside Ky. 461, apparently killed by a car, swimming in Buck Creek near the former Buck Creek Boat Dock and more recently off East Mt. Vernon Street near the intersection with Ky. 914.

“Wild bears are not dangerous ... they’re terrified of humans ... people are not on their menu,” said Sidwell. “The only way a bear become dangerous is when it is tamed by people feeding it.”

Be that as it may, this writer will never forget an exchange with a former photographer for this newspaper.

In a wooded area of eastern Pulaski County in pursuit of a story, the pensive co-worker wondered aloud what we would do if we spotted a bear.

“I’d run,” I suggested.

“You can’t outrun a bear,” he speculated.

“Don’t have to,” I said. “All I’ve got to do is outrun you.”