By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – A few weeks ago, a black bear set out to find a new home, and that journey is taking him through the hills of Northeast Mississippi.
Over the weekend, the Prentiss County Sheriff’s Department fielded calls about black bear sightings in the Booneville city limits and out in the county. Black bears are very rare in Northeast Mississippi, and, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, this bear has been on this path for a while now.
“Alabama Game and Fish have tracked him since June 4, all the way across North Alabama,” said Brad Young with the MDWFP. “He’s steadily moved west from there.”
Young speculates that the bear was pushed out of his mother’s range by an older bear, and is now looking for new territory.
“We’ve had reports of either spotting it or finding bear tracks in people’s gardens and yards,” said Prentiss County Sheriff Randy Tolar.
No one has come in contact with the bear, he said.
“Bears are very shy, secretive animals. They hardly ever come in contact with people. They go out of their way to avoid people, but this bear, for whatever reason, has made up his mind to go west,” Young said.
Black bears can be found in the state near the Mississippi River and on the lower coastal counties.
“In Northeast Mississippi, they’re very uncommon. This makes this guy pretty rare,” Young said.
If anyone spots the bear, they should leave the bear alone and contact law enforcement or the wildlife department.
“He doesn’t want to be around people anymore than most people want him to be around,” Young said. “He’s lost, basically. He’s just kinda wandering the earth right now, trying to find a place to call home.”