450-Pound Black Bear Lives in Roanoke Backyard - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

450-Pound Black Bear Lives in Roanoke Backyard

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A Roanoke County family says they're prisoners in their own home after a bear moved into their backyard.

"It's really just turned into a nightmare," Tommy Chambers said.

It's an estimated 450-pound nightmare. Chambers and his fiance Ashley have a a picture of the bear only feet away from the home where they live with their small son.

They've been living with the bear for a little over a month, seeing him almost every night. It's the second bear found in that Bonsack neighborhood. The game warden has already captured a 250-pound bear from that area.

Chambers showed us where the bear has littered their back yard with footprints and even napped in their flower bed, just feet away from their back door.

Every night, the comes out from behind their fence, which is an open field located behind the Bonsack Kroger shopping center. It's a place you wouldn't expect to find a bear.

A short walk into the woods shows what the bear has made a snack out of, and judging by the layout, he's got a bird's eye view of what's being put out for his next dinner.

"Every night now you have to flip on every light in your house to take your dog outside or when you get up in the morning to go to work and it's still dark you are scared to open your garage because you don't know what's going to be there," Chambers said. "There's been several times I've taken my dog out at one or two o'clock in the morning and the bear is running across the back yard when I open the back door."

Bear sightings are becoming more frequent this time of year. Just days ago a black bear was hit by a car traveling on I-581 in Roanoke.

Bear expert Jaime Sajecki says that bears are preparing to hibernate and are searching for as much food as possible, which is why they are coming out more frequently, especially in urban areas.

"The most important thing for them to be eating typically this time of year is acorns, and probably as everyone has noticed there has not been a whole lot of acorns that have been produced this time of year," Sajecki said. " So bears are just looking for whatever they can find."

And what they are finding most easily on the menu is in your back yard.

Sajecki says that owners can scare bears away from safe distances by shouting, using electric fences, throwing stones, or shooting them in the back with paintball guns.

Owners should keep trash inside until pickup day and empty all bird feeders, as well as remember to clean their outdoor grills.

While Chambers has been doing all the above, it's going to take the entire neighborhood to get rid of his family's bear problem.

"Any given night he is getting pizza boxes, fast food, leftovers that get thrown out," Chambers said. "He is definitely eating well."

And until he doesn't find those meals, this black bear is here to stay.