Bear skips ferry, decides to swim across Neuse River

bear ferry

A black bear swims across the Neuse River near the Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach ferry on Monday. The bear made the two-mile journey from Pamlico County to Craven County in about an hour. Had it taken the ferry, the trip would have been about 20 minutes, and probably a lot less tiring.

Photo courtesy of Mike Merrill
Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 at 02:40 PM.

The Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach Ferry may have a solution to its toll issues — bear watching tours.

Ferry passengers and crews got an unusual sight Monday afternoon when a black bear swam across the Neuse River.

According to Sue Kinner, six ferries Monday afternoon passed a 300- to 400-pound black bear as it swam the channel from Pamlico County to Craven County.

“He was the star attraction,” said Kinner, operations manager at the crossing. “We probably could have sold tickets like dolphin tours if we could have. That’s how we’ll make our toll money.”

The ferry departing Minnesott Beach at 2:30 p.m. first encountered the bear just offshore from Camp Seagull. Kinner said the bear needed about an hour to swim about two miles across the river to Craven County. Had the bear taken the ferry, the trip would have taken about 20 minutes, and probably been a lot less tiring.

Passengers got out of their cars and lined the rails of the ferries to watch the bear as it paddled across the river.

“He was just outside of the channel,” Kinner said. “I think there was a point there when they had to dodge him because he was right in the channel. He swam across in our channel just like he was following our aids to navigation.”

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