A young ursine pedestrian was killed early Tuesday morning along U.S. 64 after having been apparently struck by a motor vehicle.
The Nash County Sheriff’s Office responded about 6:30 a.m. to reports of a bear sighting on the highway near the ramp to Old Carriage Road. Deputy Stan Ricks and Deputy T. Mooring arrived to find the bear dead at the scene.
“He appears to be about 2 years old, based on his teeth and his paws,” Ricks said.
As a young adult bear, the animal still was comparatively small. Early reports had noted a cub sighting at that location.
Ricks said he was hoping for a rescue operation instead of a tragic ending.
“I wish we had a successful survival story for this one,” he said. “I love animals in general, but bears fascinate me. Most black bears are scared of people. They only attack in defense.”
Sighting of bears in the Rocky Mount area are rare, but they do occur. Nash County Chief Deputy Brandon Medina said in a later interview that this was the first reported bear sighting his office has dealt with this year and only the second one he has seen in his six years with the sheriff’s office.
Ricks said the other case took place more than a year ago.
“In years past, it seems like the black bears move from the eastern part, and they come off Stoney Creek or streams like the one near here,” he said. “About a year and half ago, another bear was hit between Stoney Creek and the hospital.”
As far as a motive for the bear’s presence on the highway, Ricks said bears usually are either looking for food or for a breeding ground.
“As the old country song says, it seems like he was ‘looking for love in all the wrong places,’” Ricks said.
State Wildlife Commission officials came later in the morning to claim the remains of the bear, Medina said.
Animal rescue attempts were a large part of Mooring’s day Tuesday. Later that day, he and Denton responded to a report of a young calf running in the road near South Old Carriage Road. Deputies were able to rescue the calf and return it to its home pasture.