A massive black bear that could be among the biggest in South Carolina has appeared in a single trail camera photo in Sumter National Forest.
The image shows the bear on its hind legs, head up and mouth open — as if caught in a roar.
Deer hunter Allen Shelor says it was taken June 25 in the Mountain Rest area of Oconee County, eight miles from his home in Walhalla. Oconee County is the state’s westernmost county, wedged between North Carolina and Georgia.
“He’s huge. That’s the biggest bear I’ve ever seen and I grew up in this area,” Shelor told McClatchy News.
“It’s hard to say how big. The state record is around 600 pounds and I believe he’d be close to that and will only get bigger through the summer. I didn’t have a gun when I went to get that camera. That makes you think, knowing he’s there somewhere.”
Shelor says he regrets not having his camera set on video, but his photo is still good enough to reveal what the bear had been doing minutes earlier. There’s something red dripping from its paws and chest, he noted.
“He had been in a blackberry patch, eating. There are a lot of blackberries there and he’s covered in blackberry juice,” Shelor said.
Woman who fed peanut butter to a Smoky Mountains bear is in trouble, park says
Black bears, which are native to the Southeast, have become a subject of concern in the southern Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee and the Carolinas. A 16-year-old girl was seriously hurt by a bear June 18, as she slept in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and aggressive bear incidents have forced the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail to put temporary camping restrictions in place.
Average weight for a male bear in South Carolina is up to 350 pounds, the state says. However, the record is 609 pounds (shot in 2013), and multiple bears in the 590- to 597-pound range have been killed in the recent years, The State reports.
Shelor’s photo was posted on Facebook by his sister, Lee Boling, and it has gotten hundreds of reactions and shares. Commenters wonder not only how big it is, but also what it was doing: Dancing or scratching its back against a tree?
“I wouldn’t want to walk up on this guy!” Frank Wilmot wrote.
“Too close for comfort,” Jonnie Hendrix Beddingfield posted.
“Run,” Gene Ellis Jr. said.
Fisherman spots large object floating off NC coast — and discovers a swimming bear
Bears keep stealing hikers’ backpacks in NC mountains. Now officials have a warning