Winchester black bear sighting confirmed
Published 11:43 am Monday, July 10, 2023
A black bear that was reported on social media to be seen roaming around the Colby Station Center area of Winchester over the weekend has been confirmed by the Winchester Police Department (WPD).
“Officers went out last night and confirmed [on video] that there was a bear there,” said WPD Sgt. Monty Corbett. “They sent that video over to the [Kentucky] Department of Fish and Wildlife [Resources]. The game warden that they spoke to said that it appeared to be an eighteen-month-old male.”
One of the first individuals to see the bear was Winchester resident Tony Sexton, who spotted it with a friend behind the Little Caesars Pizza restaurant at Bypass Road.
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Sexton took a four-second video and posted it to Facebook.
“We just thought it was pretty cool to see one in Winchester. We’ve only seen them in Tennessee,” Sexton said. “He was just enjoying trash as soon as [the video] ended he ran in the woods.”
With July being mating season, it is assumed that the young bear might have been sent away while the mother went to mate.
Thus, the bear may be looking for food or residence.
“They say typically they’re not dangerous to people. They’re more scared of us,” Corbett said.
Nevertheless, caution is encouraged.
On their Facebook page, the WPD recommended the following:
- Do not approach or feed the bears
- Do not leave pet food outside
- Secure all small pets
- Secure trash cans and lock dumpsters
- Keep doors secured and close garage doors
Individuals are encouraged never to approach a bear or run from one, as it will trigger the bear’s instincts to chase.
In the event of a bear encounter, slowly back away and raise your arms to appear bigger while yelling at the bear or using an object to make noise to frighten it away.
The direct or indirect feeding of a bear violates Kentucky state law and is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, a year in jail, and the moss of hunting and fishing opportunities for up to three years.
Hunting bears, while regulated in the state, is limited to defined seasons within established zones in the eastern part of Kentucky in order to sustain the bear population.
According to an article published in Winchester Sun last month, John Hast, Bear Program Director for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, said young black bears can unintentionally go to a highly populated area.
“They are on their own for the first time and just discovering humans,” Hast said. “They are generally wary of people and will keep moving to exit a populated area on their own, usually at night when humans are less active.”
While noting its illegal nature, Hast continued to emphasize that feeding the bears be avoided.
“Ideally, we just don’t want them to be tied into an area where they’re consistently received a food reward”, he said. “Having the residents of the area secure their garbage [and] secure their food attractants is the number one thing that we can do to get this situation resolved.”
Recent sightings of bears have been reported in eastern, southeastern, and south central Kentucky, including one as recently as three weeks ago in southern Fayette County, though appearances in Winchester are historically rare.
Corbett described the area of town the bear sighting occurred in.
“It runs from Colby Road behind that shopping center to Quail Ridge [Road] and then down to Rosemary Drive,” he said.
Both the Winchester Police Department and Clark County Sheriff’s Department are monitoring the areas according to their jurisdiction.
“As far as mitigation, we have sergeants with less lethal ammunition like pepper ball guns to dissuade the bear from the area,” Corbett added. “The fish and wildlife department told us that if we do that, then the bear will understand that this is not a place it needs to be and will try to find a place to go.”
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources continually collaborates with the Winchester Police Department.
“If we see it, we’re going to attempt to contact fish and wildlife and let them know that we have it in case they have someone they want to come over to try to tranquilize it and move to a different area outside of Winchester,” Corbett said.
More information about bears can be learned at https://bearwise.org.
Please contact WPD at 859-745-7403 if you see the bear.