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Bear hit in Cumming came from Great Smoky Mountains National Park

POSTED: July 2, 2008 5:01 a.m.

CUMMING — Shane Mullins and his brother, Mark, were driving along Canton Highway just before 11 a.m. Friday when they noticed something unusual lying in the middle of the road — a female black bear.

They said they saw someone in a white pickup truck parked behind the bear.

"We went to the bottom of the hill and turned around," Shane Mullins said. "By the time we got back up here (the truck) was gone."

Later, the brothers helped a Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputy move the dead bear to the side of the westbound lane.

It appears the bear was hit while crossing Canton Highway.

The brothers waited there, along with the deputy and a Cumming police officer, for state wildlife resources personnel to arrive.

Mark Hunter, a state wildlife technician dispatched to collect the bear, said a tag on its ear showed it was from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"That’s not uncommon," he said. "We have bears we tag that wind up in the Smokies. And their bears end up down here."

The bear also had a radio collar on its neck. Hunter said the collar’s batteries were probably dead, but he would notify park officials and provide them with the tag numbers.

"If they trapped that bear and put a collar on it, they’ll have the age and everything," he said.

Depending on how much data was recorded from the collar’s transmissions, officials could also determine where the bear had been and its social patterns.

The bear is apparently the same one recently spotted in Cobb and Fulton counties, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. Friday’s incident raised to four the number of bears hit on Atlanta-area roads since late May.

Department of Natural Resources officials say it is unusual to find a female bear that had wandered so far because most black bears that wander into suburban areas are males. In spring and early summer, they follow wooded river corridors in search of food and territory free of more dominant bears, sometimes ending up in neighborhoods and office parks.

Ken Riddleberger, a regional game management supervisor with Wildlife Resources, said this bear "was in pretty bad shape." She weighed only about 100 pounds and had a thin coat marred by mange.

Wildlife Resources recovered the carcass and will bury it, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

Georgia’s primary bear areas include the north Georgia mountains, the Ocmuglee River drainage system in central Georgia and the Okefenokee Swamp in southeastern Georgia.

In December, a black bear was found dead under the Ga. 20 overpass along Ga. 400 in Forsyth County. Officials thought it had also been hit by a passing vehicle.


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