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Comments on the Black Bear photo, prompted by a letter

We knew when the picture was posted to expect some snapback smart-assed remarks about it. Old Coddger accommodated us right off. He wrote: "OK, blow it up until we can see it or it is not a bear. LOL LOL" He was talking about the photo now attached to this article: Bear spotted by BJ Fudge on Crocus Creek, Adair Co., KY But there's a serious side to the news, as well: While the area is now vastly more intriguing, we do need to know how to safely co-exist with black bears, without risking foolish, avoidable misencounters of the (perhaps) fatal kind.

By Ed Waggener

We know the the OC's response is all in good fun, and that's fine.

No, this photo can't be blown up to easily see the bear. But it was there. Billy Joe Fudge saw it and observed it for about three minutes.

He shared the photo - risking ribbing and ridicule - just to give a bit more context to the area where the bear or bears have been seen. And he, like the OC, always takes joking comments in good humor.

The photo was taken on the spur of the moment, and it meant only to let others know where to look for the bear. BJ Fudge knows a bear when he sees one, and he acknowledges that from the distance, it can't be easily made out from the photo he took with a very good point and shoot Powershot which does a fantastic closeups - the best we've seen, but doesn't have the capabilities of a D3000 Nikon with a $3,000 telephoto lens for always capturing objects at a distnce..

Again, Billy Joe's photo was taken, and posted, to let others know where the bear, or bears have been seen.

The fact that the account comes from of one of the area's most knowlegeable and trustworthy naturalists, Billy Joe Fudge is made even more reliable given he has impeccable corroborators, including perhaps the top wild animal expert in our part of Kentucky, Herbert Turner. Turner has seen bears near his home on KY 704 on several occasions in recent days. Turner knows more about wildlife than Grizzly Adams. It comes from a lifetime of observation.

Based on that information, we're confident that a black bear is, or black bears are, in fact, in the Inroad area of Southern Adair County.

Our hope is that those who might be in the area will be alert to photo opportunities as well as to the exercise more care when exploring there.

Most Adair Countians will be happy to know the bears are back, but the fact that they are means some behaviors need to be modified to safely co-exist with them and avoid the possibility of tragic human/bear encounters. Wikipedia has a List of fatal bear attacks in North America. Two, involving black bears, have occurred in the first decade of this century in the Great Smoky mountains.

Because they are now more commonly seen here, we'd hope that even more people get to see them in the wild so close to home. And to be aware at all times that the bears are here and how to live with them.

The area where they are being seen is only 12-13 miles from the Public Square in Columbia. The drive is through territory which is arguably the prettiest in Kentucky.

It's rugged country, too. There are some perils along the way. But there's no more reason to fear the dangers along the way than those along any other byway, but there is reason to be more alert now.

There are more chances of being startled by a deer popping across the road; by a bobcat coming out of nowhere to dash in front of a vehicle; even by low flying wild turkeys passing in front of a windshield can give a start. It happened as we were driving in the area last night as we were northbound on KY 55 between Glens Fork and Zion. The turkey appeared, it seemed, out of nowhere.

It created a stunning, unforgettable moment, almost like having low flying World War II cargo plane cut low across the sky; an experience not unlike the ones Breedingtown residents used to experience when practice bomber runs, with the planes low flying planes cutting across the ridgetops under the radar, came out of Sewell Air Force Base, so near the ground eyewitnesses, remembering big, perhaps, thought they could see the pilots wave to them as they passed over burley tobacco fields.

And now, motorists need to be aware that black bears may wander onto the road.

Those of us who have loved this byway since the first time we discovered it now have new reasons to be drawn to it, with the black bears' return.

We also have a responsibilty to alter driving patterns, food handling, and enter this magical world in a higher state of alertness both for our safety and to be able to more fully enjoy all the wonders the countryside offers.

In a short time, we're sure, close-up photos of the Burns Creek bears will be more commonplace. For us, the sooner the better. -Ed Waggener

This story was posted on 2011-03-17 04:00:43
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Bear spotted by BJ Fudge on Crocus Creek, Adair Co., KY

2011-03-16 - KY 704, Adair Co., KY - Photo by BJ Fudge.
BJ Fudge spotted a black bear well within the boundaries of Adair County. It was on the South Side of KY 704, a full 4,000 feet north of the Cumberland County border. The sighting was made 8:50amCT, today, Wednesday, March 16, 2011. "I hollered to see if I could make him move, and he did. From a great distance, I couldn't estimate its standing height or weight." The field is owned by Travis Coomer, part of the O.P. Petty farm. Travis Coomer is skeptic. He doesn't think there is a bear on his land. But there is. Bears have also been sighted at the confluence of Burns Creek and Crocus. While black bears are rather common in Cumberland County, they have only recently seemed to drift into Adair. BJ Fudge said he was able watch the bear about three minutes before it disappeared into the woods. The top of the ridge line is Southwest of the Jessie Sullivan place on Melson Ridge.

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With help of Lindsey Wilson VP, Vice Mayor finds BJ Bear

2011-03-17 - Columbia, KY. - Photo from Vice Mayor Craig Dean.
Senior Columbia City Councillor, Vice Mayor of all Columbia, KY, and Renaissance Man Craig Dean was aided by Lindsey Wilson Vice President for Alumni Affairs and man of Science Randy Burns to get a better look at BJ Fudge's Burns Creek Bear. He writes, "Ed, I must admit, at first sight, I didnt see a bear, but after Randy Burns blew the picture up for me, I can see it very well now," he writes with the photo above.

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