Commonwealth Journal

October 25, 2012

A load to bear

Creature caught on camera may be Pulaski's biggest

by Bill Mardis
Commonwealth Journal

Ano —  

A black bear photographed by a game camera in the Ano community may be one of the largest to roam the hills of eastern Pulaski County.
The bear, caught on camera at 3:34 p.m. October 5 on Boat House Ridge, was estimated to weigh 500 pounds and appeared to be more than 7 feet long. It was eating out of a deer feeder near Rooney Turner’s hunting cabin.
Turner said the bear’s length was estimated by the height of a 5-foot-tall cylinder-shaped deer feeder. The bear was standing on its hind legs getting corn out of the feeder.
“The bear was not standing up straight,” said Turner, a backhoe operator for the Pulaski County Road Depart-ment. “If it stood up straight, it would be 7 to 7 1/2 feet tall.”
Alan Sidwell, owner of Sidwell Wildlife and Rehabilitation at Dahl, didn’t see the picture of the bear at Ano, but he was a bit skeptical of the estimated weight of 500 pounds.
“That would be a giant,” said Sidwell. He said a male black bear weighing 350 pounds is an awfully big bear. “ ... their bone structure is such it would be difficult to weigh 500 pounds unless there was rolls of fat all over it.” However, Sidwell noted at this time of year bears are fat as they get ready for the coming winter.
Sidwell said the resident population of black bears in Pulaski County is not great, “ ... maybe 20.” However, male black bears are always on the move and they come in and out of the county.
“A lot of deer hunters with game cameras are getting photographs of black bears,” Sidwell said. “They put corn in deer feeders and if there is a black bear anywhere in the area, it comes to the feeder.”
The good folks in the Ano community of eastern Pulaski County probably don’t like their area being called “Wild Country,” but some of the biggest rattlesnakes that ever slithered across the ground have been killed near where the bear was photog-raphed.
Most of the big rattlers are seen at a place known locally as “Rattlesnake Crossing,” a section of Boat House Ridge Road about a quarter of a mile from Turner’s hunting cabin.
Tony Fletcher killed a rattler crossing Boat House Ridge Road that measured 59 1/2 inches. “(State Representative) Tommy (Turner) and I measured it,” Rooney recalled.
Turner was not surprised about the big bear messing around his deer feeder.
“I see bear tracks around here all the time, especially in Baker Hollow,” Turner said. “Baker Hollow is just below my hunting cabin.”