The severed head of a black bear is still wrapped in a plastic grocery bag, and still on a rooftop in downtown Elizabeth City.
"I was honestly freaked out,” says Chris Hudson, who works for George and Company Heating and Air. “I mean, it's not something you see every day."
Chris Hudson was repairing an A/C unit on top of the Kramer Building last Friday afternoon. Before he saw the head, it was the smell that caught his attention.
"I can't really describe how dead things smell, just bad," Hudson says. "I didn't really notice at first, but when I saw the snout I got freaked out."
According to N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission spokesman Jeff Cantrell, the bear’s head appears to have been disposed of illegally under state wildlife laws. However, it's not illegal to dry the head out if it was someone's personal property and the bear was killed legally.
“We don’t know much beyond that a bear’s head was discovered,” Cantrell said. “We are early on into the investigation, but we are looking into it.”
Elizabeth City Police believe it's been decomposing on the roof for weeks, if not months.
"Especially nasty that someone would leave it up here,” Hudson says. “I don't know what somebody was thinking."
Police believe the bear head was placed up there to dry out so the owner could eventually mount it, a practice they say is common for the area.
Jan Cooper lives in the Kramer Building. She worries this will hurt the perception of downtown Elizabeth city.
"We’ve got the beautiful river, the waterfront and everyone's just trying so hard and then something like this happens and it's not good," Cooper says.
Officials estimate the head came from a 325-350 pound bear and that the way it was cut suggests that someone was trying to dry it out to mount later.
Anyone with any information about the bear’s disposal in Elizabeth City is asked to phone the Wildlife Resources Commission at 1-800-662-7137.