Residents along West Main Street in Laurens had an unusual visitor this past Sunday morning.
A juvenile black bear was spotted first along West Main Street around Todd Avenue and then in the Sherwood Forest area Sunday morning.
Laurens resident Chris Edwards snapped a photo of the bear and posted it on his Twitter page.
“A first for me. Seeing a bear in Laurens. Crazy,” the post read.
The Laurens Police Department warned residents to not approach the bear if it wandered into their neighborhoods.
“If seen please do not approach the animal, also do not try to capture, feed or otherwise have contact with the bear. Remember this is a wild animal and should be considered extremely dangerous if approached,” a statement issued Sunday afternoon on LPD’s social media accounts read.
Below: Video of the bear in a West Main Street neighborhood of Will Sharpton in Laurens. It destroyed bird feeders and ate bird seed in a backyard before police arrived and the bear spotted the officer and ran into the woods (Will Sharpton video):
LPD officers contacted the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, which handles wildlife issues across the state. LPD said SCDNR “advised that the best course of action right now is to leave the animal alone in hopes that it will return to the wild and move on out of the city.”
LPD Capt. Scott Franklin said Tuesday no more reports of sightings have been called into the LPD.
“Last we heard, he had been seen on Pinehaven, but we haven’t had any more calls about him since Sunday,” Franklin said. “Hopefully, he’s back out in the woods somewhere. As far as we know, he just kept moving on.”
While the appearance of black bears in area neighborhoods is unusual, it is not unheard of. On May 20, 2019, a black bear was spotted wandering around a Clinton residential neighborhood. Local officials ended up closing a street in the neighborhood until the bear went away.
About that same time, several similar bear sightings were reported across the Upstate. SCDNR officials said then that some black bears tend to wander from their usual haunts as summer approaches.
SCDNR also said most black bears are shy and not aggressive toward humans, but there are exceptions to every rule.
A 2019 ABC News story reported that black bears attack humans less frequently than any other bear species by a large margin. A “disproportionate amount” of those attacks involved dogs and their owners trying to protect them.