GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - A Pitt County woman said she and her daughter were trapped in their minivan because a black bear was rummaging through the trash in their yard.
Deputies responded to 2139 Faye's Court, near N.C. 43 outside Greenville, after Christine Cummins dialed 911 from her vehicle. The call came in at about 9:50 p.m. Sunday
Cummins said she and her 10-year-old daughter had just pulled into their driveway and were getting out of the minivan, when a neighbor yelled at them to get back inside.
"I said, 'Why? what's going on?' And she said, 'There's a bear in your yard,'" Cummins told NewsChannel 12. "So, I jumped back in my car and I shined my lights on, put the high beams on, and sure enough, there was a huge black bear… I didn't know if this bear was going to attack the van with myself and daughter in it or not."
Cummins said the bear, believed to be about 400 pounds and 6 feet tall, was going through her trash cans, looking for any food it could find.
That's something Sylvia Coward, who lives nearby, knows all too well. She said a big black bear has been roaming around the woods behind her home for the last month and a half.
"He started huffing… trying to scare you away, I think," Coward said. "He came up that section of land in between us and climbed over on top of the garbage cans. We had some lattice and he broke all that down and threw it into my flowers."
Coward believes the bear she saw is likely the same bear that Cummins encountered, just roaming around and looking for food.
"He probably goes from here to those woods across there. He'll be back," Coward said.
Wildlife experts said it's usually male juvenile black bears that are out and about. They just came out of hibernation, got kicked out by their moms, and are hungry.
"They are looking for anything they can find," said Robbie Norville, a biologist for N.C. Wildlife Management.
While bears may look scary, Norville said you don't have to worry.
"I just tell people don't approach them. And certainly don't feed them whether directly or indirectly," he said.
Norville said bird feeders and trash are the top two things bears go for during this time of year. He said if you come in contact with a bear, it's probably because it smelled food.