HICKORY, N.C. – Wildlife officials have contained a wild black bear that was spotted roaming in downtown Hickory Wednesday morning.
The bear, which was identified as a male, was spotted in the back parking lot of an ABC Store on 1st Avenue SW near a post office. NC Wildlife crews were called to the scene to contain the bear.
After a couple hours on his tree perch, the bear climbed down, which allowed state wildlife biologists and officers to guide him down a pre-planned path towards the woods behind the Hickory Police Department's headquarters.
A woman inadvertently crossed into the path, standing just feet from the bear.
The bear paid no mind to the woman as it went across the street.
"Are you alright?" NBC Charlotte's Brandon Goldner asked the woman.
"I'm good," she said. "I saw him earlier when he was up the tree. I'm so glad. I hope they get him okay."
State wildlife Commission biologist Brad Howard said the bear safely made it through the woods.
"It's kind of cool to see a bear in the wild," Howard said. "Although, I wouldn't necessarily call downtown Hickory 'the wild.'"
He said the bear will likely hide in the woods till nightfall before making the trek home.
Bear encounters are on the rise across North Carolina this season. In Asheville, the U.S. Forest Service is ordering anyone within 1,000 feet of Avery Creek Road to store food in a bear-resistant container. On Tuesday, a bear was spotted near Francis Bailey Middle School in Huntersville.
"They are transient bears, most likely," says Danny Ray, a district biologist for the Wildlife Resources Commission. He says the spike in sightings could be due to a spike in hormones.
"June is the peak of breeding season for bears," says Ray.