It was less than a year ago when bears were spotted in Fort Smith and Pocola, Okla. Now they’ve been seen roaming around the Lake Alma hiking trail.
News like this startles some residents.
“I’ve heard there have been bears out here every single day,” Brittany Van Matre said. “So it’s a little scary.”
Hikers like Crystal Chang are looking to authorities for answers.
“I’d kind of like some explanation why they’re coming down into town so much,” Chang said. “This is right in town, that’s pretty scary. There’s homes all around here.”
Alma Police Chief Russell White said a bear has been spotted on Interstate 40, east of Highway 71 and along the hiking trail north of the lake.
He urges hikers not to approach the animals.
“We’re not trying to encourage the bear to stay and obviously by feeding the bear, they’re going to make it want to stay,” he said. “Then it will start looking in other places for food and will probably become a nuisance.”
Some residents walk the trail daily, but are having second thoughts.
“What are we going to do if there’s a bear, ya know?” Van Matre said. “I mean, I don’t even really know what to do. It’s kind of scary.”
But for others, it wouldn’t be the first time they saw a bear.
“The mother bear came up on the side of the trail and a baby bear fell out of the tree,” said Linda Skillern. “That’s when I was worried. So if this one has babies, that’s when you really need to worry.”
Chief White says there have been no injuries related to the bears reported in the area.