Young bear hangs out in Natchez yard

Published 12:05 am Friday, May 1, 2015

Dennis and Judy Moritz spotted a black bear in their backyard on Pecan Way in Natchez.  (Submitted)

Dennis and Judy Moritz spotted a black bear in their backyard on Pecan Way in Natchez. (Submitted)

NATCHEZ — Dennis Moritz was watching television when an animal he thought was a raccoon made its way into the backyard.

But when he looked again, he realized that whatever it was — well, it was way too big to be a raccoon.

“It stood up, and I could see it was a bear,” Moritz said. “I said (to my wife), ‘Judy, we have a huge bear in here.”

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The animal — a juvenile black bear — appeared at the Moritz’s Pecan Way backyard around 8 p.m. Tuesday. He made for the same thing the raccoons go after — the birdfeeders — and tore them up, hanging around for approximately four hours.

The next night, he returned, spending approximately five hours, laying down on the ground.

“He was just digging around in the dirt and picking up the seeds,” Moritz said. “He started moseying around the yard, took a drink from the bucket we have to water flowers, and after a while he just went on his merry way.”

While the Moritzes kept their distance when the animal was around, they took the opportunity to shoot a few pictures and enjoy its presence.

“It was pretty neat, pretty amazing how beautiful the bear was,” he said.

Moritz said the bear entered the yard from Spanish Bayou, which runs behind the residence, and that several days before its initial appearance their dog had stood at the edge of the yard, barking down into the bayou. Other neighbors have reported similar disturbance from their pets, and the bear has apparently done some damage to other yards in the area.

The Moritzes have spoken with a wildlife expert, who told them to make sure they don’t have any feeders or loose dog or catfood outside.

“They explained to us bears are coming out of their sleepy periods, roaming and trying to find food,” Moritz said. “Our main thing is to alert people to know they don’t need to feed the bears because if they do (the bears) won’t leave.”

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ black bear information pamphlet recommends those who encounter a bear in a residential area should stay inside a residence or vehicle.

The MDWF also says people should not try to scare away a bear.