from The News & Observer

RALEIGH – Residents of northwest Raleigh stayed on the lookout Monday for the bear or bears that traipsed through their neighborhoods Sunday, but there were no further sightings.Law enforcement officials on both sides of the Wake-Durham county line received calls Sunday morning from residents surprised by a furry visitor.

David DeVerter, who lives at Dawn Piper Drive in Raleigh, grabbed his camera when he saw a black bear walk through his side yard, past the white picket fence and down his suburban street.

His photos show a young bear estimated to weigh 100 pounds.

“I’d seen a fox in my yard one time, but nothing like this,” DeVerter recalled Monday. “It was very obviously a bear.”

Black bears are the only bear species native to the state.

Once forced by hunters and farmers into shrinking enclaves in the mountains or coastal swamps, North Carolina’s black bear population is rebounding just as the state’s population is booming. And black bears have expanded their range in the past 30 years.

As a result, bears and people are crossing paths more often. Bears aren’t as ubiquitous as the white-tailed deer, an animal that seems to thrive at the woodsy edge of the suburbs, but sightings of the lumbering creatures aren’t unheard of in the Piedmont, wildlife experts say.

Tom McKemie, who lives about a half mile from DeVerter, saw a bear in his backyard off Indigo Moon Way in Raleigh about 8:30 a.m. Sunday. He was one of those who dialed 911.

“He wasn’t in a hurry, just walking through like he had somewhere to be,” McKemie said Monday. “We see deer like crazy around here, but never a bear.”

Other residents reported seeing a bear in Durham County behind the Wal-Mart store off Brier Creek Parkway, as well as crossing through a nearby cemetery.

Authorities were not sure whether the sightings were of one bear or whether there may have been two bears — a mother and a cub.

McKemie, who saw the photos taken by DeVerter, is convinced he saw a different bear.

“I think my bear was bigger,” he said. or (919) 829-4698