“He went on a killing frenzy. He killed all the birds in there, and he didn’t even eat them. Just took bites out of them and shredded their bodies,” said owner David Scarboro.
Scarboro said the bear ignored a 500 watt security light and “snatched the door off the hinges. There were three-quarter inch screws in good wood on that door. I couldn’t have done that.”
Scarboro has been raising fancy pigeons—ones with feathered feet or feather crests on their heads—for several years. He estimated the value of the birds he lost at $1,200.
But it wasn’t the money that concerned him, Scarboro said.
“It just made me sick. Every one of those birds was my friend.”
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Scott Frazier said it is “a bit unusual for bears to bother poultry, and there are a lot of poultry houses in north Georgia. It’s more common for them to walk past them repeatedly. But every now and then one will go in and kill birds.”
And, as in the case with Scarboro’s pigeons, they don’t necessarily eat all they kill.
Bears are omnivores, and do eat meat, but what attracts them, Frazier said, is the bird feed.
“Mr. Scarboro said the original damage was to a bucket of pigeon food, which he put up afterward. Bears remember the places where they can get a treat. What probably happened was the bear came back the following night and there was no pigeon food, so he went after the pigeons themselves,” Frazier said.
Frazier said he did not “necessarily consider the observed behavior to be dangerous to people. A bear will go for the food.”
“I’m not afraid of anything on two legs. I’m a veteran and I’ve seen a lot of things. But this bear scares me. I believe he is dangerous,” he said. “We are running them out of their habitat. If this continues, too many people moving into their territory, sooner or later something’s going to happen.”
At least six people have been mauled by bears in the last week or so in four different states—Alaska, Wyoming, Michigan and Idaho.
Frazier said the numbers of bears and nuisance complaints have been trending up for the last several years.
“I don’t know if there will be a significant increase this year yet or not, but we have been getting more bear complains the second part of the summer,” he said.
Bears, he said, have two types of food behavior. In the first part of the summer they are feeding on fruits and grain. In fall, they bulk up on “mast”—the nuts of hardwood trees like oak and hickory.
“Right now its after the fruits and grains have peaked and before the mast is available, so they are looking for food. If you control the food items you can control bear behavior. Walk around your yard and take a conscious look at what may be an attractant—trash, bird seed, pet food. Don’t leave these out to attract any bears,” is the advice he gives those living in bear country, and that includes Lumpkin County.