A young male, probably away from home for the first time, was struck and killed by a vehicle in Liberty County early June 11.
But this isn’t the tragic story of a teenager taking chances with newfound freedom. It is the tragic story of a black bear being where he wasn’t expected to be.
“He was a very handsome little guy,” Dr. Brandy Bragg, veterinarian and owner of Animal Hospital at Rice Hope near Port Wentworth, said of the animal that was brought to her Saturday morning. The bear died Monday night.
“We tried with him,” the vet said. “We sure hoped he’d pull through, but ... ”
No report of the accident that is believed to have happened on Highway 196 East last Saturday morning could be found with the Georgia State Patrol or Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.
David Mixon, regional game management supervisor with the Georgia DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division, said he took the bear to Rice Hope.
“We took over care of the bear after it was hit,” Mixon said, adding that it appeared the vehicle had hit the bear’s head.
He said when he got to the bear it was in the back of a pickup. He started looking for medical help and didn’t press people around about what had happened.
The area’s DNR game warden, Lt. Jay Morgan out of Richmond Hill, was away over the weekend and also was unsure of details of the accident.
Both Mixon and Bragg said bear sightings in Coastal Georgia are rare, but not unprecedented.
“I’ve lived here all my life and never seen one in the wild,” Bragg said.
Mixon said the area does not have a population of bears, but that periodically young males wander through looking for their own territories.
“No cubs have been reported to us,” he said. “You’d see that if they were always here. And you do see them just three or four counties over. They even have seasons on them over there.”
Sightings of bears wandering through the area also increase when wildfires, such as the one going on around the Okefenokee Swamp, displace existing population.
“The same day the bear was hit up there, we had a report of a bear being cornered in Camden County,” the ranger said.
Bragg said Mixon’s organization took the bear’s remains and plan to make an educational display from as much of it as can be used.
“At least something good came out of this,” she said.