Be BearWise: Live Responsibly with Bears

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is one of 15 states that is part of BearWise, a regional program based in the southeastern United States that shares ways to prevent conflicts with black bear, provides resources to resolve problems with black bears, and encourages community initiatives to keep black bears wild. Questions about black bears? Email

Learn more about Bearwise.org.

 

Learn how to become a BearWise community at Bearwise.org and learn about the North Carolina BearWise certification requirements (PDF), as well as bear-resistant trash cans and outreach material you can request for your community or business.

Recognized BearWise Communities of North Carolina

Highlands

Highlands

This town of ~1,200 residents became recognized in 2021. In 2018, Highlands Mayor Patrick Taylor and the Bear Education and Resources (B.E.A.R.) Task Force attended a BearWise introductory meeting in Asheville. Their interest in BearWise was the result of bears attempting entry into homes and interacting with pets in town. Upon leaving the meeting, the Highlands representatives affirmed they would become the first town in the US to achieve BearWise recognition. The mayor began work with the Highlands Board of Commissioners to implement an ordinance within town limits requiring the use of bear-resistant garbage carts to meet the requirement to secure garbage. The mayor also called for commercial and street garbage carts downtown to be replaced with bear-resistant receptacles. The mayor and board members then requested the assistance of Commission biologists to create an ordinance addressing attractants to fulfill the remaining BearWise community requirements. The town enacted an ordinance that states, “Leaving food, garbage or any other substance in any manner that attracts or allows bears access is prohibited.” Violation of either ordinance first prompts a warning, then a fine for each consecutive violation. Since enacting the ordinances in early 2021, the mayor of Highlands is reporting a reduction in calls concerning bears to local law enforcement and sanitation. Highlands has become the “gold standard” for future recognized BearWise communities in North Carolina and beyond.
 

L to R: Left to Right: NCWRC Justin McVey, Highlands Town Manager Josh Ward, Highlands Mayor Patrick Taylor, NCWRC Ashley Hobbs, Cynthia Strain, Gail Kinstler, Helen Moore, Diane Levine, Gerri Tulley, Master Officer Leah McCall, Chief Andrea Holland, NCWRC Colleen Olfenbuttel. Photo credit Brian O’Shea. 

Mountain Meadows I

Mountain Meadows I

This is a neighborhood of ~40 homes that became BearWise in 2021. Neighborhood residents decided to become BearWise after they experienced bears entering homes, getting into garbage, and displaying habituated behaviors in the neighborhood. They have agreed to secure garbage on non-collection days in their garages and only place garbage carts at the curb the morning of collection. They have also agreed to remove attractants for at least 2 weeks after experiencing bear activity and adhere to the 6 BearWise Basics. They act as BearWise education ambassadors to the rest of the Town Mountain area of Asheville, NC.

L to R: Brent Russell, Justin McVey, Ashley Hobbs, Janet Winemiller. Credit: Tom Winemiller

Mountain Meadows II

Mountain Meadows II

This is a neighborhood of ~40 homes in the Town Mountain area of Asheville, NC that became BearWise in 2021. Residents decided to become BearWise after they experienced bears entering homes, getting into garbage, and displaying habituated behaviors in the neighborhood. They had previously purchased bear-resistant garbage carts in bulk before pursuing BearWise. They have agreed to secure garbage on non-collection days in their garages and only place garbage carts at the curb the morning of collection. Residents have also agreed to remove attractants for at least 2 weeks after experiencing bear activity and adhere to the 6 BearWise Basics.

Black Mountain Neighborhood

Black Mountain Neighborhood

This is a group of ~35 homes in the downtown area of Black Mountain, NC. This community is unique because it is the only BearWise Community in the US without a unifying structure (e.g., homeowners association, road maintenance association, government structures). Residents decided to become BearWise after they experienced bears getting into garbage and displaying habituated behaviors in the downtown area. Residents have agreed to secure garbage on non-collection days in their garages and only place garbage carts at the curb the morning of collection. They have also agreed to remove attractants for at least 2 weeks after experiencing bear activity and adhere to the 6 BearWise Basics. They act as BearWise education ambassadors to the rest of Black Mountain, NC and hope to encourage the town to become BearWise.

L to R: Ashley Hobbs, Kiersten Hall, James Tomberlin.