Two people out fishing from kayaks this week on the North Carolina coast didn’t get many fish, but found something much larger, and fuzzier.
“Today the fishing wasn’t all that great.. but that didn’t matter,” he said on Facebook, sharing video of the encounter.
Sabadic said he watched the bear cross Stumpy Point Bay, near the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, on Monday.
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He said he and a friend saw the bear walking along the marsh and went closer to see how big it was.
“You could see this big black blob across the water,” he told McClatchy.
Then, Sabadic recalled, the bear itself got closer, too.
“Instead on our way it decided to cross the river and head towards us! I was able to get within about 12 ft of this massive black bear and follow him all the way to shore for a 1/4 mile almost!” he wrote.
“Swam across the sound like it was nothing went for around a 1/2 mile swim and didn’t struggle a bit!” he said on Facebook.
Sabadic said he kept his distance as the bear reached shore, and then the bear ran off into the marsh.
“We made eye contact a couple times,” Sabadic told McClatchy over the phone.
The video shows the large black bear swimming to shore and then running up into the marsh.
Sabadic said he talked to some guides who work in that area who estimate the bear weighed 350 to 400 pounds.
Black bears are not an uncommon sight for this part of North Carolina. “Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge has what is believed to be one of the largest concentrations of black bear found in the southeastern United States,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Sabatic told McClatchy he has seen a handful of bears around Dare County over the years, but they normally run away when they see him.
The bear population in the refuge has recovered in recent decades, the Fish & Wildlife service says, from a low of less than 35 in 1974. Now, the FWS writes, “The estimated population is between 180 and 293, with estimated densities of 1-2 bears per square mile.”