YORK, S.C. — An alert was sent out by the York Police Department Wednesday about several sightings of a black bear in the area of Kings Mountain Street and Congress Street.

"It is likely (not confirmed) a young bear has been turned loose by the mother bear to live on its own," the department posted on Facebook after talking with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).

Police asked residents to not feed, harass, or go looking for bears, adding there was a $10,000 fine for shooting and killing a bear out of seasons. It's also illegal to shoot a gun within the city limits.

"Black bears are rarely aggressive towards humans, including small children, and pets," the department wrote. "Black bears are drawn into the city because they are searching for food."

Police said the best way to keep bears away from your home or business is to get rid of food sources like:

  • Garbage cans, dumpsters: Put containers inside garage or lock them
  • Bird feeders: Remove them from yard for at least two weeks, dispose of any remnants on the ground 
  • Pet food: Keep it inside

Police said loud noises like banging pots and pans or sounding an air horn should scare away a bear.

"Just the mere sighting of a bear in and of itself does not constitute an emergency that should be reported to 9-1-1," the department posted. "If a bear is attempting to gain entry into any structure or vehicle that should be reported directly to local authorities."

You can report a bear sighting online or by calling 1-800-922-5431. You can learn more about black bears from the SCDNR website.

Police said a bear will move on within a few days if it cannot find food.