Wildlife management is tracking a bear that has been spotted numerous times in the downtown area of Gainesville, according to authorities.
Gainesville Police Lt. Kevin Holbrook said the first reports of a bear sighting came in Friday afternoon in the area of Browns Bridge and McEver roads. On Saturday, July 30, the bear was spotted numerous times around the downtown area.
It was seen just before 2 p.m. Saturday in the College Avenue and E.E. Butler Parkway area.
“Most people will notice that the bear does have what appears to be a collar,” Holbrook said. “It is being tracked and monitored by wildlife management, and they’re just encouraging individuals to leave it alone. It will eventually find its way back home.”
DNR’s wildlife management spokeswoman Melissa Cummings said the ultimate goal in cases like this is for the animal to move back to its natural habitat without interference.
Adam Hammond, state bear biologist with DNR’s wildlife division, said the latest update he received this morning was that the bear was north of Gainesville.
The bear, an adult female, was captured in Tennessee roughly two months ago by Great Smoky Mountains National Park personnel.
“They put a collar on it and relocated the bear,” Hammond said. “After that relocation event, it has since done a pretty significant walkabout all the way down to Georgia, into South Carolina, North Carolina, back into Tennessee and then a return trip to Georgia.”
Hammond did not have an estimate of how far the bear has traveled in these past two months.
The collar has a GPS system that can be set to give location data at certain intervals. Hammond said the last time he discussed the collar settings with someone, the collar was on a 20-minute interval.
The collar didn’t send data, however, for roughly a day after the bear was hit by a car July 24 in Alpharetta.
After the collision, the bear ran into the woods behind The Hotel at Avalon, according to the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety. Hammond said there has been no indication that the collision harmed the bear.
“This particular bear has had quite the track record of movement over the past week, including visits to several states, (the) Alpharetta area and now (the) Gainesville area,” Cummings wrote in an email.
Holbrook said law enforcement is encouraging the public to not tie up the 911 center with calls about the bear unless necessary.
“Many times, people tend to forget that we do live in North Georgia amongst the wildlife,” Holbrook said.