on Apr 24, 2014 01:57 PM • Views 6619

Sightings of black bear have increased as bears have expanded their population numbers and range.

Media Contact: Geoff Cantrell

RALEIGH, N.C. (April 24, 2014) — Black bear sightings throughout North Carolina are becoming more common as the bear population increases and bears expand their home range. While black bears are not inherently dangerous and are rarely aggressive toward people, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission advises caution to reduce potential conflicts.

In spring, juvenile bears from 1-2 years old disperse beyond their previous home range, while adult bears can roam extensively searching for food and mates. This can include roaming into residential areas. If left alone, most transient bears will find their way quickly out of town and back to natural habitat. People are urged not to approach or follow bears, or put themselves between bears and possible escape routes.

“Sometimes when a bear is seen, crowds may gather. This seemingly harmless situation can become dangerous for both humans and bear,” said Ann May, the Commission’s extension wildlife biologist. “But the best option is to stay away, not interfere and allow the bear to move out on its own.”

The Wildlife Commission rarely relocates bears, because it can be dangerous to humans and the bear, and relocation is generally unsuccessful. Relocated bears often return to where they were originally captured. Additionally, there are few remote areas remaining in North Carolina where bears can be relocated. Luckily, most situations do not warrant trapping and relocating bears, because removing attractants and leaving the bear alone resolve many conflicts.

The Wildlife Commission cautions people to not feed bears, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Bears can become bold when they grow accustomed to feeding on pet food, garbage and birdseed. Residents can best avoid problems with bears by:

  • Securing bags of trash inside cans stored in a garage, basement or other secure area, and placing the cans outside as late as possible on trash pick-up days — not the night before.
  • Purchasing bear-proof garbage cans or bear proofing existing garbage containers with a secure latching system.
  • Discontinuing the feeding of wild birds during spring and summer, even with feeders advertised as “bear-proof.” Bears are still attracted to seed that spills on the ground.
  • Avoiding open and unattended outdoor pet food containers. If you must feed pets outdoors, make sure all food is consumed and empty bowls are promptly removed.
  • Cleaning all food and grease from barbecue grills after each use. Bears are attracted to food odors.

For more information, go to www.ncwildlife.org/bear or call 919-707-0050.

Download a hi-resolution version of the photo above. Please credit Mike Carraway/NCWRC.