Runners claim they see bear at Westgate Park, others skeptical

Published 05/14 2014 03:43PM

Updated 05/15 2014 12:12PM

A runner at Westgate Park claims he spotted a bear along the running trail. Scott Fowler said he and a friend were running a little after 8:30 when they noticed the animal in the darkness.

“We were using an I-phone light to kind of watch our feet and where we are going,” Fowler said. “That’s when we spotted something and I looked at my friend and asked if it was a bear. She said it was so we ran away and called police,” he said. Fowler described the bear as bigger than a dog but said he isn’t sure how much it weighed.

Dothan Leisure Services Director Elston Jones confirmed that police were called in regard to the bear sighting. “Officers responded but were unable to locate a bear,” he said.

Game warden Tim Ward said it would be “highly unusual” if a bear was at the park. He said there are only a few verifiable sightings in this region and those usually occur along river beds. He said large chow dogs are often confused with bears.

Reports were made to police in May, 2012 regarding bear sightings in east Dothan.  Police say it was likely a large dog that had recently been dropped off along Omussee Road.

There have been multiple bear sightings in Panama City recently with the animal likely migrating from Tyndall Air Force base. One stayed in a tree several hours until coming down.

Two bears were killed by vehicles near Geneva in the past two years. One occurred in 2013 at the intersection of County Road 85 and Alabama State Highway 27 about a mile from the Choctawhatchee River.  In 2012, a bear was found dead on Ward Street in Geneva.

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