MORGANTON, N.C. - The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has experienced a rise of reported bear sightings in recent weeks.

The animals have been spotted roaming around neighborhoods in Burke, Catawba and Lincoln Counties.

The latest sighting was Thursday near Hildebran, when Kirstie Ferguson and Romi Gibbs saw a black bear walking near their workplace.

"I started screaming and jumping up and down," Ferguson recalled.

"All kinds of wildlife walk through here," Gibbs said. "But I never dreamed a bear would walk through here."

N.C. Wildlife biologist Danny Ray confirmed he's received more reports of bear sightings.

Bears love eating berries, and as nature transitions to blueberry season, bears are on the hunt for food.

"The bear is the type of animal that will try to utilize easy foods," Ray said. "Those that are most convenient for it to get to."

Often, the most convenient food is leftovers thrown out by humans, pet food left outside and bird feed.

Ray said people should be cautious and not leave any type of food a bear could find outside.

He said there will likely be fewer bear sightings once blueberry season goes into full swing.

As for the bear spotted in Hildebran, Ray said a man killed the bear on Friday after the bear tried breaking into his chicken coop.