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Wetumpka Man Arrested for Killing a Black Bear in Elmore County

Black bear photo by Billy Pope, ADCNR (This is not the black bear that was killed in Elmore County)

Black bear photo by Billy Pope, ADCNR *Note: This is not the black bear that was killed in Elmore County.

Black bear is a protected species in Alabama

Michael Watkins, 32, of Wetumpka, Alabama, has been arrested and charged with killing a black bear in Elmore County. Although classified as a game animal in Alabama, there is no established black bear hunting season in the state. Black bears are also protected by state law due to low population numbers.

“Hopefully this arrest will send a message and deter future wildlife regulation violations related to Alabama’s black bear population,” said Matt Weathers, Chief of Enforcement with the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR). “If you see a black bear, just leave it alone. We want them in Alabama.”

Anyone shooting at or killing a black bear risks serious consequences.

In Alabama, shooting at a black bear is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a potential minimum fine of $2,000. Other penalties for attempting to take a black bear include the loss of hunting and fishing license privileges for three years and possible jail time.

Historically, a small population of black bear has remained rooted in southwest Alabama, primarily in Mobile and Washington counties. In recent years, bears migrating from northwest Georgia have established a small but viable population in northeast Alabama. ADCNR is currently working with other state and federal agencies to collect data on the state’s black bear population and movements.

Black bears are secretive, shy animals that will avoid human interaction. To avoid attracting a bear to your home, feed pets just enough food that they can consume in one meal. Secure uneaten pet food, trash bins, bird and other wildlife feeders, as they are easy pickings for hungry young bears.

If you are lucky enough to encounter/observe a black bear, WFF offers these suggestions:

• Do not be frightened
• Do not approach the animal
• Do not run from the bear; back away slowly
• Stand tall and upright and make loud noises
• Avoid direct eye contact with the bear
• Make sure the bear has an unobstructed direction to escape
• Never purposely feed a bear

The public is encouraged to report black bear sightings online at Black bear sightings can also be reported to WFF district wildlife offices, or by email to Thomas Harms at

ADCNR promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. Learn more at


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