CALHOUN COUNTY, SC (WIS) - For the past few weeks, Larry Bachman's wildlife camera has captured some unusual videos. It didn't capture images of deer, wild hogs, or coyotes. Instead, it captured several videos of a hungry black bear.
"This is a very large bear over 6 foot tall. Probably weighing 300 or more pounds," Bachman said.
Bachman lives near the DAK Americas plant in Sandy Run and is just the latest person near that rural portion of the Midlands to spot a bear.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has said the Calhoun County sightings began last June. Wildlife biologists originally believed that an individual bear was passing through the area, but now, there's some belief that multiple black bears are trying to establish permanent residence in Calhoun County. While bears have established healthy populations in the Upstate and along the coast, there are no permanent populations in the Midlands.
"Twenty years from now, there could be a standalone population here in the Midlands," Charles Ruth, a big game program coordinator with DNR, said. "And, gosh, we've got great habitat."
The area where the bear has been spotted lately is only a few miles from a remote stretch of the Congaree River and Congaree National Park.
However, Bachman has become concerned by the bear's recent antics.
"He has actually been on my back deck just feet away from our bedroom patio door," Bachman said. "He is becoming more brazen and getting harder to scare off. In the last week, he has been there at least five nights."
In the trail camera videos Bachman captured, the curious bear stands on its hind legs in an attempt to feed from Bachman's bird feeders. While Bachman is aware that DNR has encouraged him and others to remove the bird feeders -- along with other food sources like pet food and smelly garbage cans -- he's hoping for a different solution. He hopes DNR will capture the bear and relocate it elsewhere.
"I am concerned for my dogs and cats as well as my family and neighbors," said Bachman.
SCDNR will meet with Bachman this week to talk about relocating the bear, but Ruth admits he'd rather solve the problem in a different way.
"All these animals kind of do what they think is right. If you're propping them up with a free food source, they're going to take advantage of it," he said.
Ruth said there's never been a bear attack in South Carolina. In fact, he said most bears are skittish, unless they're conditioned by food to lose their natural fear of humans.