More black bears seen in Gwinnett

LAWRENCEVILLE - There could be more than one black bear traipsing around Gwinnett, based on several sightings across the county in the past week.

Last week, a black bear was spotted in the visitor parking lot of the Gwinnett Medical Center. Several patients and visitors reported seeing the bear to the hospital's security guards, according to Cheryl Newman, a registered nurse in the emergency room.

A jogger also reported seeing a bear by the pavilion at Dacula Park, not far from Dacula Middle School.

Newman said she fears that a lot of people don't know how to react when they see a bear. As a nurse, she has treated many animal bites and other wounds. In some cases, children were attacked when they tried to pet squirrels or other wild animals.

"People just don't see bears down here, and I just feel like they won't know what to do," Newman said. "It would be totally different than dealing with other animals, especially for kids."

Don McGowan, a biologist with the state Department of Wildlife Resources, said he had also heard of another bear sighting off Callie Still Road in Lawrenceville. That was where, a few weeks ago, a black bear was hit by a teacher's car as she was driving to work.

The sightings in Dacula and Lawrenceville were about 10 miles apart and were reported within a few hours of each other.

"I'm not so sure that we're not dealing with more than one bear," McGowan said. "It's quite possible. Bears can cover a lot of ground in a hurry, but I think we're dealing with more than one."

McGowan said the chances of a bear attacking a human are very low. In most cases, the bear may be afraid of people and would only attack to defend himself.

Newman also said she had heard that a black bear may have killed a pet German shepherd last week. McGowan said he had heard a similar report, but that he couldn't confirm if it was true. He added that it was possible a black bear would attack a dog if it felt threatened.