Washington residents react to fatal bear shooting

Published: Jun. 26, 2020 at 8:27 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Black bears get spotted every so often in Washington, but it isn’t every day they show up for a nap in a neighborhood yard.

Washington resident William Opharrow says a crowd showed up to his backyard Thursday to witness the 403-pound black bear who decided to hang out for a while.

"Yogi, Smokey, he had all sorts of names."

Eventually, the crowds died down, but the bear had been spooked and climbed up a tree.

"When everybody left, when everyone disappeared, someone got bored."

In that tree, hours later, someone shot and killed the bear.

Ryan Biggerstaff works with NC Wildlife, who was monitoring the situation while the bear was on the ground. He says the best thing to do would be to leave the bear alone.

“The bear would have come out of the tree once everything got quiet and calmed down… left city limits and probably would never have been seen again,” said Biggerstaff. “An unlawful take of a black bear, just a truly beautiful animal, is just unnecessary.”

Other neighborhood residents believe officials should have continued to keep watch on the bear once it was in the tree and kept the crowds away.

“They crowd him up, where’s he going? He ain’t got nowhere to go but up,” said Opharrow’s neighbor Cletus Barner. If someone would have stayed here, that bear would still be living, today.”

Neighbors hope next time this rare sight occurs, both residents and wildlife can stay safe.

“Something that we never see that often, but something we should have handled better.”

Copyright 2020 WITN. All rights reserved.

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