Atlanta attracting the BEARS but they’re not in town for a game ~ Missouri asking HUNTERS to help monitor DEER for CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE ~ Texas town reports six MOUNTAIN LION sightings in a week ~ a RABIES report from North Carolina ~ CDC Reports: ZOONOTIC DISEASE summary for week ending October 22, 2011.

Black bear in dumpster trash. Photo by Mass. Wildlife.

Georgia 10/21/11 by David Ibata – State wildlife biologists say black bears like the one that made himself at home this summer in the northern Perimeter area could be finding suburban Atlanta a nice, cozy place to settle down. So far, there are anecdotal signs pointing to the beginnings of a year-around bear presence in the suburbs. “We’re seeing indicators that it’s happening here and there,” Adam Hammond, wildlife biologist for the state Department of Natural Resources, told the AJC in a phone interview. “Every piece of information we collect about bears points to the same thing, that their population has grown tremendously” in the North Georgia mountains, Hammond said — and with that comes pressure on younger animals to migrate south. One ursine in particular became a local celebrity, sighted by police and residents in August in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Johns Creek and unincorporated Fulton County near Roswell. Authorities speculated the bear had wandered in from the west, following the Chattahoochee River upstream. Eventually, they said, the animal would return to its home territory in the mountains. Maybe he did; sightings fell off after the first week in September. And maybe he didn’t.

DNR estimates that Georgia is home to at least 5,100 bears. About 4,000 live in North Georgia, up from roughly 1,200 four to five years ago, Hammond said. Researchers say the animals are expanding nationwide, and have shown up in such other areas as Birmingham and Tulsa, Okla. Locally, they’ve been sighted across the northern tier of suburbs, in such counties as Cobb, Cherokee, Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett. “If you’re somewhere around Canton or the north side of Atlanta, you’re more likely to have bears than the south side [of the region],” Hammond said. “But there’s really nowhere in the state where I would be surprised to see a bear.”

Why the boom in bruins? No one knows for certain, but it’s possibly because the animals aren’t as widely hunted as they once were. There was bear poaching, and many property owners considered the animals varmints and shot them whenever they encountered them, but both forms of killing have declined. The animals can be taken legally in Georgia during bear season, but legal hunting hasn’t kept pace. So, rapid population growth is putting pressure on young male bears. Kicked out of their dens in their second year by their mothers, and possibly pushed out of the North Georgia mountains by older dominant males, youngsters may be seeking new territory to the south. And to a bear, the Atlanta area is a big all-you-can-eat buffet of bird seed, pet food and garbage. “That’s one of the biggest problems with bears in metro area,” Hammond said. “If we get a bear in the mountains getting into someone’s trash … usually we can deal with it by getting residents to remove food sources.” “But in the metro area, with people and pets and houses and bird feeders, there’s just so much there, it’s just an endless supply of food.”

So how can people tell if there’s a bear out there taking up permanent residence? “This time of the year, if there are bears hanging out in the metro area, chances are they live there,” Hammond said. Another tip-off, he said, would be a known den site — none have been reported yet in the metro area — “or if people see sows (female bears) with cubs in the spring.” There has never been an unprovoked bear attack on a human in Georgia. But danger could arise if bears become accustomed to humans supplying them with food. “The best thing people can do is just basically allow the bear to remain wild,” Hammond said. “Don’t do anything to tame the bears. Don’t feed the bears on purpose. Don’t allow the bears to continually get into your garbage or bird feeders.” “Bears have an innate fear of people, but over time with food, they can lose that fear, and that’s not a good thing for the bear or for people. You just need to respect them and give them their space.”

Missouri 10/28/11 News Release – As part of its ongoing efforts to monitor free-ranging deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD), the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is asking hunters for help. Hunters who harvest adult deer in Linn, Macon and parts of Adair, Chariton, Randolph and Sullivan counties during the early youth portion and first two weekends of the November firearms portion are being asked to take their deer to the a roadside collection site for tissue sampling. For dates and locations see

Texas 10/28/11 Lorenzo, Crosby County: Six mountain lion sightings reported in the past week, including one from Lorenzo Police Chief Henry Benitez, and another from Police Officer Daniel Patterson. See

North Carolina 10/28/11 Morehead City, Cartaret County: Several dogs quarantined after bitten by raccoon that tested positive for rabies. See

CDC Reports:

CDC MMWR Summary for Week ending October 22, 2011:

Published October 28, 2011 / 60(42); 1461-1474

Anaplasmosis . . . 11 . . . Arkansas, Florida, New York (9),  

Babesiosis . . .  . . . New York (8), Pennsylvania,

Ehrlichiosis . . . 4 . . . Maryland, New York, Tennessee, Virginia,

Giardiasis . . . 207 . . . Arizona, Arkansas (2), California (24), Colorado (21), Florida (35), Georgia (4), Idaho (3), Iowa (2), Louisiana, Maine (5), Maryland (2), Missouri (8), Montana, Nebraska,  New York (49), North Dakota, Ohio (19), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (14), South Carolina (4), Virginia, Washington (4),

HME/HGE Undetermined . . . 2 . . . Indiana (2),   

Lyme Disease . . .  311 . . . California, Delaware (5), Florida, Maryland (17), Michigan,  New Jersey (71), New York (80), North Carolina (3),  North Dakota (9),  Pennsylvania (112), Vermont (4),  Virginia (2), West Virginia (5),

Q Fever (Acute) . . . 1 . . . Michigan,

Rabies (Animal) . . . 31 . . . Alabama, California (2), Kansas, Maine, New York (8), Ohio, Puerto Rico (2), Virginia (13), West Virginia (2),

Spotted Fever (Confirmed) . . . 1 . . . South Carolina,

Spotted Fever (Probable) . . . 14 . . . Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee (2), Virginia (4), West Virginia,

Trichinosis . . . 1 . . . California.


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