MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - There was a surprise visitor in a Madison County neighborhood on Monday morning- a black bear!
He was spotted in a subdivision not far from the intersection of Winchester Road and Bell Factory Road. The medium-sized bear crossed a busy street, darting into the woods.
There’s been a string of bear sightings across the Tennessee Valley over the past month. Wildlife experts say development across north Alabama has them on the move.
Christine Parker spotted tracks in her grass and believes the bear meandered through her yard. She’s lived in the Flint River Downs subdivision for more than a decade and has seen snakes, rabbits and ducks, but never a bear.
It was trash day so that may have attracted the furry guest.
The bear was spotted around 8:30 a.m. Sheriff's deputies responded to the area, but could not locate the bear.
“He’s probably on the other side of Bell Factory and I hope he’s safe. Probably smelled the food from this big holiday and I hope it found something to eat,” Parker said.
Roxana Zito posted a photo of the bear near the entrance to the subdivision to a community message board on Facebook to make others aware.
She was headed to work when she saw it run into River Downs Drive.
“It seemed something had scared it into the road. It saw me in my vehicle coming towards it which I think made it take a hard right and darted across Bell Factory (where it almost got hit) into the tree line just beyond where it almost got hit on Bell Factory,” she said. “It wasn’t a cub, but for some reason, I don’t believe it was fully an adult yet. It was scared and confused it seemed.”
Roger Baker was in his truck, checking for the bear on nearby streets.
"We've got a lot of wildlife right on the edge of the neighborhood but I didn't imagine black bears would be here this soon," he stated. "I went looking through some of the neighborhoods, but if they're back in the trees, they're very hard to spot. I'm sure he's trying to stay concealed."
There’s been other recent bear sightings, including Priceville, south Huntsville, and Owens Cross Roads. Residents say they will have their head on a swivel.
"I hope nobody hurts the bear. No animal deserves to be injured. If they don't do anything to you, leave them alone. Let them go. They're being ran out of their habitats, it's as simple as that," Parker said.
“Just be careful when you walk out at night. We know they’re around here. I love wildlife so I’m glad to have them. But we do have to take extra precautions,” Baker added.
Development across north Alabama has bears on the move, according to Marcus Garner, extension agent for Madison County.
He urges residents to dispose of trash properly.
If you leave food and water out for pets, try to put that up at night because bears will develop a routine when they find a source of tasty treats.
If you see a bear, give it plenty of space. Make loud noises to scare it away.