The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office received a call around 10:45 a.m. reporting that a bear had been sighted in a residential area on County Home Road. Sheriff Dale Furr said several deputies responded, and they called U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials in hopes of getting someone with a tranquilizer gun on the scene.
“Deputies spotted the bear in a wooded area right behind some houses, about 40 to 50 yards from where children were playing,” said Furr. “People in this area, especially children, are not used to being around bears. If that bear was to have gone into someone’s yard looking for food or garbage, somebody could have gotten killed.”
When the bear began to move back into the woods - and out of sight - Detective Sergeant Keith Mabe followed it to maintain its location until Wildlife could arrive.
“I stayed there with it to keep an eye on it,” said Mabe. “He stood up twice at about 20 or 30 yards away, and then I lost sight of him. When I regained sight, I don’t know if I was on top of him or he was on top of me.”
Mabe said he didn’t want to terminate the bear, but he felt threatened when the animal stood up on his hind legs directly in front of him.
“He was in an aggressive stance, and I knew that is I didn’t react to him then he would react to me,” said Mabe.
“He was in danger, and he felt the community there was in danger - especially the children,” said Furr.
“I just wanted to stay with him so I could maintain where he was,” said Mabe. “But sometimes our plans don’t work out the way we want them to.”
A USFW official arrived after the bear had been killed. Mabe and another detective pulled the animal out of the woods and sent it on to the USFW outpost in Marston for analysis.
According to Mabe and Furr, the male black bear was approximately six feet tall when standing on his hind legs, and weighed 250 pounds.
“I’ve hunted a lot of things,” said Mabe, who has been with the department for 16 years. “That was a first.”