Rare bear

Social media buzzing over out- of- place critter roaming the streets of Marion

ralphhardin@gmail.com According to the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, the number of American black bears in Arkansas is increasing. In fact, historically, black bears were so abundant at one time that the unofficial motto for Arkansas was “The Bear State.”

Black bears became rare in Arkansas after 1850, after much of the state’s forest lands were cleared by logging companies, and by the 1930s, Arkansas’ black bear population had dwindled down to a few dozen.

Of course, whether you think that is a good thing or bad depends on your view of bears. Thanks to conservation efforts, the Arkansas black bear population is thriving once again, with an estimated 3,000 black bears roaming state forests.

Oh, and Marion. There was definitely one in Marion the other night.

That’s not to suggest that the UCA football team stopped at the local Mc-Donald’s (everyone knows those are purple bears). An actual real-life black bear took a stroll through the town Saturday night. And this wasn’t some creepthrough on the outskirts of town. This bear somehow made its way into downtown Marion, making an appearance on the First Community Bank security cameras (perhaps headed to Sonic for 1/2 price shakes after 8 p.m.?) and even giving one motorist pause before loping out of sight.

Eventually, the bear made its way to a grove of trees near Brunetti Park, where it decided to hole up and wait for the authorities to arrive, which they did. According to reports, the bear was captured and was not harmed.

At first, the Facebook crowd was a little wary of stories that a bear was running amok in Marion.

Photo courtesy of Facebook Billie Ginn posted, “Well, I told my hubby and he didn't believe me.” Bet you believe her now, don’t you, Paul?

“A customer told me last night about it,” posted Candice Gross. “Said that she almost ran over the thing. I told her she needed to call someone about it. I thought she was joking.”

Wesley Smith was among the early skeptics.

“I saw a few posts about a possible bear sighting,” he posted. “I figured folks were tripping. Wow!”

And of course, the milliondollar

question was asked

multiple times.

“Where did he come from?”

There were a few amateur bear enthusiasts offering opinions.

“This is not uncommon for black bears to visit Marion,” David Carter informed the masses. “They follow the old river shoot and only travel at night, so you don't usually encounter then. Keep your trash can empty or sealed and he will move on.”

Whatever brought him to town, only the bear knows… and he’s not talking.

By Ralph Hardin