Bear tracks discovered along Palmetto Trail in Midlands

Bear tracks were discovered near the Broad River trestle, according to the Palmetto Conservation Foundation. Karamie Sullivan photo.

The Palmetto Conservation Foundation reported that bear tracks were discovered along a portion of the Palmetto Trail, near the SCE&G Trestle, closest to Peak.

“We ask that you keep an eye out in this area and use precaution when hiking,” the announcement read.

The Palmetto Trail was originally established in 1994. When completed, it will provide 500 miles of continuous pedestrian and bicycling trails from the low country to the upstate. The portion of the trail where the bear tracks were discovered is located in Peak, approximately seven miles outside of Chapin.

According to Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Jay Cantrell, it is unusual for a bear to be in the area, but not surprising.

“Bears being as they are, can roam and ramble,” he said. “Typically it’s young male bears trying to find their way in the world.”

Cantrell said it is likely the bear was just passing through the area, and should not alarm people. “Black bears are way different than grizzlies. They’re pretty docile and scared of people – particularly these younger males.”

Although the Palmetto Conservation Foundation did not report what type of bear tracks were found, Cantrell said he is 100 percent sure it belonged to a black bear. He added that black bears are the only kind of bear that live in or near South Carolina.

Regional Trail Coordinator Furman Miller said the tracks were discovered by a Palmetto Trail volunteer, underneath the SCE&G trestle. “The volunteer discovered the tracks by Crim Creek, which feeds into the Broad River.  Had the volunteer not been there at the time, we would have never seen the tracks, because that area flooded just that next week,” said Miller.

The two main areas of bear populations in the state, according to Cantrell, are located in the mountainous regions of Oconee and Pickens counties, and in the coastal plains around Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties. “They’re pretty active when it starts warming up like this in the spring, and will continue all through the fall,” he said.

If anyone encounters a black bear while on the Palmetto Trail, Cantrell said it’s a sight they should appreciate.

“If they happen to see one, enjoy it. Because it’s not a common sight, especially in the Midlands,” he said.  “If you’re scared, make a little noise and yell, and it’s going to run away.”

Miller said the bear is likely walking along the Broad River, as the species tends to travel by bodies of moving water. “It’s nothing to be scared of.  It just means the Palmetto Trail is being enjoyed by everybody,” he laughed.

Categories: Chapin, Lexington County