A bear sent a beagle to an emergency veterinarian Monday night after it entered a fenced in yard at 1120 Mountain Road in Halifax, according to the dog’s owner, Steve Raper.
The incident was reported to Halifax Police officer M. W. Bowen around 6:30 p.m. by a neighbor who witnessed the bear climb over the fence and go into the yard where it could hear the dog barking, according to Stuart Comer, Halifax Police chief.
The neighbor then witnessed the bear climb back over the fence about 15 to 20 minutes later and go back into the woods, said Comer.
The police chief said he did not believe the neighbor witnessed the actual attack.
Because of the time of the incident, Raper said he had to take his beagle to an emergency veterinarian in Lynchburg, but as of Tuesday, the beagle was receiving care from a local vet.
The police chief said he felt this was an isolated event, adding, “There is no reason for citizens to be alarmed.”
Being that this is a rural area and that Halifax is near a lake, he said there are all sorts of wildlife present.
Comer wanted to remind citizens not to feed bears, try to pet or take pictures with bears, and if a bear is sighted, to try to make noise to run the bear off.
Even though he has seen bears in the area, he said he has not seen a bear show aggressive behavior.
This incident also was reported Monday night to Brandon Harris, senior conservation police officer with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Harris said he relayed the information to the VDGIF biologist, and it has been turned over for follow up with the pet owner.
The conservation police officer agreed with Comer the public has “nothing to be concerned about.”
In some incidents, he said they would trap and relocate a bear but only after repeated incidents where bears are very close to porches, on decks or near companion animals.
“They’re (VDGIF officials are) not likely to take any direct action but take time to educate citizens,” said Harris.
He said sightings of bears are becoming more and more prevalent, and he warns citizens to avoid close interaction.
To help keep bears off properties, Harris reminds citizens not to leave garbage, pet food or bird feeders out in the open.
If someone sees a bear, Harris said to be loud to discourage a bear from coming around.
“They’ll associate it with a negative experience,” said Harris.
However, he added if a bear is sighted not to be alarmed.
“It’s going to be more common as the population increases,” said Harris. “Remember, if you do see a bear, be loud. Be obnoxious.”