This bear here is a photo by The Vicksburg Police Department, has been spotted a number of times Sunday afternoon near downtown Vicksburg and the Vicksburg National Military Park.
Vicksburg and Warren County authorities asking residents in downtown Vicksburg and those around the Vicksburg National Military Park to be aware of a bear who appears to "be out on a stroll."
As early as 11:00 a.m. Sunday, authorities with the Vicksburg Police Department, Warren Count Sheriffs Department and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks were out tracking the movements of a bear through portions of downtown Vicksburg.
"He does not appear to be aggressive and he doesn't appear to be in any kind of a hurry." Vicksburg Police Walter Armstrong said Sunday afternoon. "He just seems to be out on a stroll.
Armstrong said one of the sighting had the bear near the area of Alcorn Street and East Main Street in downtown Vicksburg. The bear was apparently heading north in the direction of the park.
Vicksburg May George Flaggs said a sighting of a bear in downtown Vicksburg is not very common.
"We are accustomed to having bear sightings on the north side of the city, but never this far into town," Flaggs said. "This is highly unusual."
Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said he and other officials have seen the bear multiple times throughout the morning and afternoon and the bear just seems to be "moving along."
"We have seen him a number of times and he has been on the move the entire time," Pace said. "In fact, he has crossed several main thoroughfares through his walk through Vicksburg. The last spotting had him moving back in the general direction of the north city limits near the military park."
Officials have urged residents to not approach the bear, but if you see it, you are asked to leave the bear alone, move indoors and call 911.
"Just leave the bear along," Pace said. "He's moving and he'll move along. We don't want anyone endangered and we don't want the bear endangered."
It's That Time Of Year
While the sighting of a black bear in downtown Vicksburg is unusual, seeing bears this time of year is not.
According to Richard Rummel, the black bear biologist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, there are three factors, or reasons, why seeing a black bear this time of year is more common.
"Right now, the natural foods they enjoy are just coming out," Rummel said, saying that bears look for blackberries, blueberries and other fruits that are just now available. "For most of the year so far, they have eaten grass and other vegetation, so they are just looking for an easy meal."
Rummel said this is also the time of year that bears breed and that cubs born in January 2015 are now old enough to be "Kicked out of the house" by the mothers and are starting to roam.
"There are a lot of sightings this time of the year because it is just a perfect storm of factors," Rummel said. "In this case, the bear is acting just like a bear should act."
Docile and shy by nature, Rummel did urge residents to keep their distance from a bear so that it doesn't feel cornered or threatened.
Residents are asked to keep their garbage secured and pick up any pet foot that might be left on patios or porches.
"Black bears have an incredible sense of smell and memory," Rummel said. "If they find some food left out one night, there's a chance they will come back the next night and so on."
He also suggested that bears, again looking for an easy meal, will look for any fruit that might have fallen from trees in yards.
"If you have a fruit tree in your yard, try to pick up any of the fruit that has fallen on the ground." Rummel said. "It doesn't matter to the bear how ripe or rancid the fruit is, they will be attracted to the smell of it."
In the end, Rummel again asked anyone who comes up on the bear, or sees the bear, to simply leave it along.
"From what we have heard, this bear is just passing through," Rummel said. "Leave it alone and let it go where it was going."