Black bear thought to be spotted on deer camera

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, December 24, 2009

Local authorities have spent time over the last week and a half trying to identify the subject of a photo taken at a deer feeder in Demopolis. The animal in the picture appears at first glance to be a black bear.

“It’s not very common at all. We’re not 100 percent sure it is a bear,” Brandon Smith of the Army Corps of Engineers said of the photo, which was taken on Dec. 17 just before 11 a.m..

The difficulty in identifying the animal stems from the fact the view of its back haunches are partially obstructed by a tree in the foreground. The animal also appears to be wearing a collar, something Smith says is not altogether unusual.

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“Alabama is not collaring any (bears) right now,” Smith said. “But they are (collaring bears) in Mississippi. If it was collared, it was collared in Mississippi.”

If the animal in question is a bear and was collared in Mississippi, Demopolis would seem to be a long way from home. However, according to the Alabama Black Bear Association, adult male black bears will maintain home ranges of up to 40,000 acres, or 62.5 square miles, away from their habitat. Females keep smaller areas, sticking to about an 18,000-acre or 28.125-square mile radius.

“It would be very unique to see one around here,” Smith said. “It would not be unbelievable to have a bear around here, but it would be unique.”

The photo has left Smith and colleagues stumped, prompting the decision to send the picture to experts.

“We’ve sent it off to Daniel Powell at the Alabama Black Bear Alliance,” Smith said. “If you go to the Alabama Black Bear Alliance Web site, they’ve got a link where you can report a sighting.”