MOBILE, Alabama (WALA) – Residents were surprised Thursday night by an unexpected site along Cottage Hill Road – a large, dead black bear.
Kristy Reed said she saw him just before midnight between Cody and Hillcrest Roads. She said she first spotted a pair of police cars on her way to Sonic Restaurant.
“As we drove past Cody Road we noticed two police cars,” she said. “We thought it was a wreck. And by the way – I slowed down as I passed – we noticed that it was not a wreck. It was a bear on the road, like just around the corner.
By the time Reed got home, she said, there were eight police vehicles. She said she had never seen anything like it in more than four decades in the area.
“They had dropped it off by the side of the road, and you could definitely see it was a bear,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like it, up close or anything. It was really huge. And I was surprised to see it like that, west of Mobile. You never hear about things like that.
Reed says he was tall – maybe two and a half times his height.
“It didn’t look like it was hurt. It was like she was lying there, ”she said. “I couldn’t tell if he had been shot or hit, but I know he was dead.”
Others on social media have reported seeing a smaller bear, possibly a cub, on Grelot Road between Cody and Hillcrest Roads.
Lt. Christopher Levy, spokesperson for the Mobile Police Department, said police responded to the call about the dead bear and then alerted the Public Works Department. It is not known what happened to the carcass. A city spokesperson was unable to respond immediately.
Bear sightings in populated areas are rare but not unheard of. A man from Theodore captured images of a bear in his backyard in April. Last month, a resident of the Lake Forest Subdivision in Daphne took a photo of a bear there.
Marianne Hudson, a biologist with the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, said there were fewer than 500 bears statewide.
“There aren’t as many bears in Alabama as people think,” she said. “However, bears can be seen anywhere at any time.”
The reason, Hudson said, is that this is the time of year when young male bears go looking for a place to live.
“This time of year young men are on the move,” she said. “They are looking for a place to feel at home. So they wander, a bit like restless teenagers. They have no home base. And so they’re just heckling, looking for food as they go, and looking for a place where they won’t be chased out of an area by other male bears.
Other members of the bear family are also moving, Hudson added.
“The mother bears are out of their den and their cubs are old enough to follow them now,” she said. “And so we have new cubs this year after mom.” We have young males from last year who are stray and on the move.
Hudson said people should minimize contact with bears by securing litter and removing other things that attract them to yards, such as pet food.
Reed said she was still surprised.
“The only time I’ve heard of it (bear sightings) is, like, Saraland on the side of the freeway, west of the freeway neighborhoods,” she said.
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