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Black bears spotted on campus

While it’s not unusual for a black bear to be spotted on or near the Furman University campus this time of year, the sightings have been more frequent than usual the past week. And that is why the Furman Police Department is asking visitors to be aware of their surroundings when they are on campus.

According to Capt. John Milby, one or more bears were seen on or near campus three days last week and again on Monday, which has prompted his office to send a series of emails and text alerts to the campus community notifying them of the sightings.

“It’s our job to keep the Furman campus safe, and we send out alerts to the campus community anytime there is a possible safety concern,” Milby said. “While black bears tend to avoid people and move quickly from one place to another, we caution individuals in the area of campus to be aware of their surroundings and exercise caution should they see a bear.”

The department will host a presentation and question-and-answer session with Tammy Wactor, a wildlife biologist with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR), 4-6 p.m., Aug. 8 in Burgiss Theater. The event is open to the university community. Wactor will discuss recent bear sightings and how the DNR manages the black bear population.

Milby said that anytime there is a sighting, a Furman police officer is dispatched to locate the bear and follow it off campus, and report its location. He also cautioned people not to approach a bear or attempt to feed it should they see one.

“We have been in touch with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources about the increased bear sightings, and they are aware of our situation,” Milby said. “We could possibly enlist their help to relocate the animals if the increased activity continues longer than expected.”

Anyone spotting a bear on or near campus should contact the Furman Police Department at 864-294-2111.

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