Preventing conflicts with bears

June 30, 2009 11:10:18 AM PDT
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission says humans and bears can coexist, if the public takes a few simple steps.Recently, black bears have been spotted in residential Triangle areas. The last citing was in Durham Friday when a bear was caught on camera running through an apartment complex.

Click here to view the iWitness video

Wildlife officials say bears move more during the summer months because your bears leave their mother to find new territory.

During this time, residents may notice bears wandering in areas the animals would not normally frequent. Residents should not be alarmed if they see a bear. Unless you give a bear food, authorities say the bear will not stay in the neighborhood.

And although black bears are rarely aggressive and will not approach people, they can become bold. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission says NC has not experienced an unprovoked bear attack.

The animals can become bold when they routinely feed on food provided by humans. That includes garbage and bird seed. Wildlife officials say when people feed bears; the animals can become less wary of human contact.

"Bears are a wildlife success story in North Carolina and, as their populations have grown, we are now seeing bears dispersed through the Piedmont region," said Colleen Olfenbuttel, a biologist with the Commission. "Ultimately, their continued success will depend on human attitudes. Bears are mistakenly viewed either as dangerous animals or cuddly pets. Neither is an accurate portrayal and we hope that, instead, people will show a healthy respect for this magnificent forest animal."

Residents can prevent conflicts with black bears by:

  • Not approaching or following a bear when one is sighted. Instead, tell your neighbors and keep an adequate distance away from the animal. Unless fed, the bear will leave the area.
  • Securing bags of trash inside cans stored in a garage, basement or other secure area, and placing outside as late as possible on trash pick-up days - not the night before.
  • Purchasing bear-proof garbage cans or bear-proof your existing garbage container by outfitting it with a secure latching system.
  • Discontinuing feeding wild birds during spring and summer, even with feeders advertised as "bear proof." Bears can still be attracted to seed that spills on the ground.
  • Avoiding "free-feeding" pets outdoors. If you must feed pets outdoors, make sure all food is consumed and empty bowls are removed.
  • Cleaning all food and grease from barbecue grills after each use. Bears are attracted to the food odors and may investigate.

For more information on coexisting with black bears, read Black Bear Problems in Residential Areas


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