bear

 A long-time Monroe County outdoors writer says a bear captured on a hunting camera last week on Charles Johnson Road is the biggest one he’s ever seen in the county.

“That’s something to see,” said Terry Johnson, who’s been writing the Monroe Outdoors column in the Reporter for 30 years.

David Rogers got photos of the bear on a hunting camera in front of a deer feeder on his Charles Johnson Road estate. He said he had noticed some of the protein pellets had put in the feeder were gone. He was amazed when he checked the SD card on the camera on Sunday and suddenly saw a giant black bear staring at him.

“I was like ‘wow!’” said Rogers. “I wondered what happened to the protein and now I know.”

The bear was photographed several times just after midnight on the morning of Thursday, July 23.

While it was interesting to see the rare bear, Rogers, an avid hunter, said he considers them pests because they eat the corn left out for deer. In fact he said they were such a nuisance at hunting property in Twiggs County that he quit hunting there.

“You can’t feed the deer because the bears are like Winnie the Pooh,” said Rogers. “I’ve had them slap hunting cameras off of trees. They know you can’t touch them. They’re like ‘we’re protected by the DNR so we can do what we want’. They’re mischievous jokers.”

Rogers said none of his other nine cameras captured the bear and he hasn’t photographed it since Thursday, so he thinks it has moved on.

Johnson, a retired DNR biologist, said in 40 years in Monroe County he’s only been told of about six bear sightings. Usually, said Johnson, bears seen in Monroe County are young males who straggle up from their home territory in the Ocmulgee River basin around the Cochran area, usually in May or June. Johnson said bears have been spotted in River Forest, in the Rum Creek WMA near Juliette, and even one that was struck on I-75 near Rumble Road a few years ago. But other than that, sightings are very rare.

“You could live your whole life in Monroe County and never see a bear,” said Johnson.

But he added that the improving technology with hunting and security cameras and prevalence of cell phones means we’re seeing more and more wildlife that we never would’ve seen before.

Johnson said in north Georgia where bears are more common some neighborhoods have rules against leaving trash cans exposed and bird feeders out at night because both attract bears. But he said he doesn’t think it’s likely Rogers’ big bear will stick around long.

Rogers said he’s OK with that.

“A bear is like a liberal protestor,” laughed Rogers. “You just have to tolerate them.”