Bear Essentials in Middle Georgia

It just became more difficult for Twiggs County bears to find Miss Right. A one-day hunt in Bibb, Houston and Twiggs counties yielded 34 bears, approximately ten percent of the black bear population for the midstate. Some outdoorsmen are concerned that half of those bears were females and that all of the female bears were taken down in Twiggs County in the Tarversville area. Tarversville is located near the US-23/US-129 intersection with GA-96 in Twiggs County.

American Black Bear
American Black Bear - Image by siwild via Flickr

This is within a mile of where I had my only near-collision with a bear about eight years ago. When I told people that a black bear had burst from the undergrowth on the side of the road and crossed the highway right in front of my car, I had a difficult time getting people to believe me. Bear sightings in Middle Georgia were rare in those days, but things have changed.

Bears are not only sighted more regularly, but have become nuisances with increasing complaints in Houston and Bibb counties. According to the write-up in The Macon Telegraph, the estimated 300 black bears were the driving force behind the purchase of 10,000 acres of Oakey Woods land in Houston County. The land purchase has been discussed often on Peach Pundit.

There was also some well-founded concern about hunting the bears over baited fields, as discussed in this excerpt from The Macon Telegraph story by S. Heather Duncan:

Hunting bears over bait is a misdemeanor “of a high and aggravated nature.” DNR rangers issued six citations related to two bears killed by hunters who were using bait, [DNR ranger Corporal Robert] Stillwell said. He said the illegally shot bears included the largest bear killed that day, a 436-pound male, and a 250-pound male. Rangers caught hunters in the act on two different leased properties.

Each citation for hunting bears over bait can involve fines of up to $1,500 plus restitution of up to $1,500, but the penalty will be up to a judge in Twiggs County Probate Court, Stillwell said. He said next year there will be more rangers patrolling the hunt, which attracted as many as 40 or 50 hunters to hunt clubs with a few thousand acres. Some landowners charged $300 or $400 for one-day hunting rights on their land, he said.

Stillwell said hunting bear over bait is harder to prove without a tip, now that Georgia has legalized hunting deer over bait. He said a hunter can claim that the bait was intended for deer, even if it’s dog food with honey poured over it. “If we find a place (like that), then we’d know to go back there and check,” he said. “But in some instances, you have to wait for a bear to be killed to get them. That bothers me. My job is to protect the bears. … So it’s harder with having the baiting laws legalized, for sure.”

And what do you have to say about Middle Georgia’s one-day bear hunt? Or about the penalties for hunting bear over a baited site?

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11 comments

  1. greencracker says:

    LOL, did you just ask what ppl think about hunting over bait? If your readership intersects any with Georgia Outdoor News, GON.com, prepare for a server overwhelm.

    • Ken says:

      Just listen sometime to someone who’s been busted for baiting a dove field if you want to hear passion – and whining and shrieks about “other people have baited fields but they’re picking on me” and how the game wardens were waiting as though that’s an unfair practice.

      Seriously, Middle Georgia has not had many black bears until recently and using bait for bears, under the circumstances, could be particularly bad.

  2. mountainpass says:

    Well I live in one of the 4 most populated counties for black bear up here in the mountains. I saw a very active bear year. They traveled through the yard a couple of times a week. I’m sure some were the same ones(named a couple) …over and over again, but more than usual it seemed. They are really quite nice animals and really just scaredy cats, I have never had an encounter where I was concerned and I have had several. I don’t like the idea of hunting over bait….that’s not sporting. But as hunting permits decline( land issues, PC issues, and growth) more bear, deer and other game will increase. Car collisions will rise, insurance will increase…therein lies the problem. The push for baiting will be looked at more and more by the lawmakers.

    • Baker says:

      Kudos to you mountainpass: “They are really quite nice animals and really just scaredy cats, I have never had an encounter where I was concerned and I have had several.”

      Unfortunately I dont think many people know that. Bears are awesome animals and black bears particularly awesome in that you can sit and watch them and not fear for your life if they see you.

      • mountainpass says:

        It’s almost as if they ignore you…they know you are there, but choose not to look at you. Now grizzlies, different story. I have had those encounters also…2(almost 3)…that turned out OK, but I wish not to duplicate them.

  3. saltycracker says:

    2 cents rant:

    Black bears should be protected, relocated from back yards and harvested under wildlife management regulations, quotas and specific conditions.

    As for encounters, leave them be, they are wild animals. A bear with cubs is not the primary one to sweat, it is the lone male that might kick butt, bear or human…..

    The cutbacks in wildlife management funding when millions are wasted in subsidies or redistribution around the state is a tragedy.
    You can’t even buy a wildlife vehicle tag and have the charged money get to the program.

  4. John Vestal says:

    When I was little, my parents wanted me to see a real bear, so we took a trip to Yellowstone. We were almost there when we came upon a roadsign that said, “Yellowstone National Park – Bear Left.”

    …..so we went home.

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