Beware of bears: Furry creatures visit Farmville neighborhoods

Published 3:31 pm Friday, February 24, 2023

FARMVILLE – If you see bears wandering around Farmville, don’t go up to them, don’t try to feed them and definitely don’t try to pet them. 

Over the last few weeks, several furry visitors have showed up in town. The Farmville Police Department received multiple reports of black bear sightings, especially in the Avenues. In situations like this, the best thing to do is to contact the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR). 

When it comes to wild game, the police department and animal control have to refer to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, which has already been informed of these sightings. If the animal has caused damage to your property, that’s where the police can step in. 

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“If there is property damage from the bear, then residents can give us a call to respond and we can write up a report to help with insurance purposes,” said Sam Bowles, spokesperson for the Farmville Police Department. 

According to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, Central Virginia is home to a large population of black bears so it is not uncommon to spot one. However, there are measures to take to help prevent bears from visiting and what to do if they do.

How to avoid attracting bears to your property

Black bears are attracted to easy and available food sources, DWR officials say. They offer some easy tips to help prevent black bears from being unwanted visitors.

“It’s certainly not uncommon to see bears up and about even during the winter in VA since bears here do not truly hibernate,” said Katie Martin, a biologist with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. “Especially with our warm temperatures recently many bears, those not giving birth to cubs, are likely out and about looking for food. Which is an even greater reason for people to be extra diligent this time of year with keeping all potential food sources secured.”

BearWise encourages people to secure all potential food sources, which includes garbage, bird seed and pet food, by making sure it’s secured in a building or keeping it inside. BearWise also encourages folks to never feed or approach a bear, keep grills clean and store them properly and let neighbors know if bear activity has been seen so everyone can do their part to clean up their yards and keep bears wild.

If a bear does decide to visit and cannot find any food it will most likely leave with no reason to return. If a bear is spotted, call the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources at 1-855-571-9003.

What to do if you encounter a bear

The best thing to do if found face to face with a bear is to not run away. Running away could prompt a chase and, according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, in the unlikely cases of the bear attacking, you can fight back with rocks, sticks and even bare hands to drive them away.  

The best practices are to make slow movements but make some noise as to startle the bear if you see it first. If found in the backyard, clanging pans together from a safe distance can help scare the bear away. Making yourself look as big as possible can also help intimidate the bear if it is following or approaching you. 

For more information about how to stay safe, visit BearWise .