Active bear family visits swim club Sunday, July 15
Bears in Big Canoe have been more active in recent weeks, according to Public Safety Director Ricky Jordan. A mother bear and her three cubs’ passion for easy food may be the catalyst for their removal from Big Canoe.
A bear family of four has been making the rounds in Big Canoe. Sunday, July 15 they went over the top when they appeared on the beach at the Swim Club, deciding to have a picnic while owners of coolers and lunch bags were enjoying the water activities.
Unphased by humans around the area, they returned multiple times after being run off the beach, but not without a snack for the road. This bear family has learned it is easier to eat human and pet food rather than scavenge for berries, nuts and grubs in the woods. They have become lazy bears and, in the process, caused damage to several homes in the days before their beach appearance.
On Sunday around 1 p.m.—as soon as the bears were spotted on the beach—the pool and swim area were cleared promptly of swimmers and sunbathers and the facility closed. At this time the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was called in to assess the situation and determine the next step to be taken to protect humans as well as the bears.
All wildlife in Big Canoe is under the supervision and care of DNR and they take over all investigations and issue fines if needed to violators who feed the wildlife.
With the Swim Club closed Sunday, DNR personnel arrived and placed two bear traps near the swimming pool area. The Swim Club remained closed Monday but opened again Tuesday for normal operating hours between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. During these hours, the traps will remain closed and will open after 8 p.m. and close before 10 a.m. the next morning while the club is in use.
People are guilty not the bears for their behavior
DNR Wildlife Biologist Adam Hammond, based in Rome, is very familiar with Big Canoe and bear problems. He will be the first to tell you, as he has numerous times in past years, that the people in Big Canoe are the ones guilty for poor bear behavior not the bears.
“These bears have learned it is easier to eat in trash cans, break into garages [as probably the same family of four did recently] where garbage and pet food, bird seed are kept than search for food,” Jordan said.
Food odors, mints, chewing gum and drinks left in cars can make a bear tear up a car to get to what it perceives to be a snack. One car in Big Canoe that had transported a rotisserie chicken from Costco had such a lingering cooked chicken odor after groceries were removed, the bear destroyed the car, doing $15,000 damage, honking the horn and blaring the radio to announce frustration at nothing to eat.
Jordan cited bears visiting a home off Quail Cove recently where a box of pet food had been delivered to the front door and not taken inside immediately. He has a picture on his phone of box and bags ripped open where the mother bear over indulged in the contents and then stretched out on the porch to sleep it off while the three little cubs observed from a nearby tree.
If you are using a pet food shipper online with front door delivery, be home when it arrives and take it inside immediately, Jordan said.
There have been 15 bear calls inside Big Canoe since spring; lower than previous years, Jordan said. All bear problems should be reported to the DNR using this telephone number: 706-295-6041.
The community can educate itself and/or re-educate living in harmony with black bears in Big Canoe at a community coffee August 11 at 9 a.m. in the Mountains Grille Room of The Clubhouse on Lake Sconti. Hammond and others from the DNR will be on hand to talk about the bear situation.
If this nuisance family of the mother and three cubs are trapped at the swim club, the decision of what to do with them will be a decision only the DNR will make.
Black bear. Photo by Jim Francis
Toby Jones setting up bear trap.