ROLAND, Ark. – Arkansas was once known as “The Bear State,” and for good reason. Roughly 6 to 7-thousand black bears still roam the state today. And much to the surprise of one Roland family…one of those bears roamed right into their yard this weekend.
According to the Arkansas Game And Fish Commission (AGFC), Arkansas black bear sightings can be bear-y possible this time of year. But don’t worry, they usually keep their distance from people but the same can’t be said for bird feeders.
Just west of Little Rock, down a Pulaski County highway, Suzanne Heidt was enjoying a beautiful Saturday afternoon at her home.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I happened to see something walk through the grass. I went to the window thinking it was a stray dog,” she says.
Instead, she could bear-ly contain her shock.
“Oh my gosh that’s not a dog that’s a bear!!” Suzanne grabbed her phone and dialed 9-1-1.
“I was shaking,” she recalls, “especially when he stood up and I’m like ‘oh my gosh they need to hurry up and get out here before he comes in the house’!”
Her furry visitor wasted no time sniffing around the house – all the way onto her back porch.
“He was just looking around, came up to the windows – up pretty close and I’m like ducking, because I don’t want him to see me,” she recalls.
Suzanne’s bird-feeder – suspended almost 9 feet in the air – was pawed down with ‘bear’ hands.
“He just jerked the bottom off, rolled around in it and ate…went to town eating the birdseed,” she says.
Trey Reid with AGFC says “It’s really not that unusual in that part of the county to see a bear.”
The red tags on the bear’s ears indicate it as a “nuisance” bear, meaning it’s not the first time this guy has come into contact with humans.
“If he shows up again, it’s likely we’ll dispatch biologists and relocate him to a much more rural part of state.” Reid says.
Suzanne laughs, saying she named him “Yogi Bear.” And smarter than the average bear he seemed, escaping just as the sheriff’s deputies arrived.
Although this is a first for Suzanne in the 15 years she’s lived in the country, she’s taking every precaution moving forward:
“I won’t be putting birdseed out for a while,” she says.
According to Reid, bears can smell food up to a mile away. He advises people not to leave trash or dog food out and of course if you see a bear call authorities.