Commonwealth Journal

Local News

May 28, 2013

Several sightings indicate bears have migrated to Somerset

Somerset —

Somerset saw its own fair share of out-of-towners last week, thanks to the  Memorial Day holiday. But there’s at least one reported visitor — of the shaggy, large, sharp-toothed variety — that’s making waves in town.  
The Somerset Police Department and others are working to track down what may be one or two black bears that reportedly made their way into the city limits over the last week. 
“Obviously, the bears and other wildlife were here long before man came around,” said Lt. Shannon Smith, with SPD. “It’s inevitable they would come in contact at some point or another.”
And that is especially true after black bear populations have surged back again from the brink over the last two decades. 
14 female black bears were released back into the Daniel Boone National Forest — specifically the Big South Fork area of Tennessee — in 1996 and 1997. That has led to a significant increase in black bears south of Pulaski, in McCreary County. 
According to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, the resurgence of the black bear population in Kentucky has also been helped along by a maturation of forests that had been logged significantly in the early 1900s. In the past 20 years, black bears have also made their way to Kentucky from West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee. 
Black bear sightings have increased in Pulaski County, notably in the eastern part of the county in areas off of Ky. 192 and Ky. 1003, and in the Buck Creek Boat Dock area. It’s common knowledge that Pulaski County has seen its fair share of bear sightings over the past century — although the black bear population here has been called “scattered,” at best. 
Now, if the four phone calls SPD received last week are any indication, at least one bear has made its way into the Somerset city limits. 

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