Bear safety: Local wildlife expert offers tips on being 'Bear Wise' amid increased animal sightings

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- With all the wildlife encounters happening in central North Carolina in the last month, from a dangerous cobra on the loose to the search happening now for four missing wolf German Shepherd hybrids plus last week's bear at UNC Rex hospital, N.C. Wildlife is now making sure you are bear-ready.

Wildlife experts said it's pretty uncommon for a bear to come out as far as Rex hospital. However, if you are ever in threatening situation, there are some things you can do to be, what they call "bear wise."

"They tend to be secretive animals, they are going to travel through water ways creeks, streams, greenways, that sort of stuff," said wildlife biologist Greg Batts.

But last week we all watched as a baby bear made his way all the way up at tree at Rex, something Batts said is rare.

"It's pretty uncommon we probably see this about once every 4 to five years. Sometimes they never get as far as that deep into Raleigh," he said.

This isn't the first bear we've seen around here. In 2015, another one popped up.

Greg said although it is rare, there are somethings you can do to just be sure you are safe For instance, not leaving your trash or grill food out.

"Take up your bird feeders, they live to get into bird feeders removing those food resources is the biggest issue," he said.

Taking these steps can help you be bear wise. You can even become certified.

"There is a bear watch community program and we are even working with some businesses to become bear wise compliant business so that would be stuff like securing your trash so bears can't get into trash and stuff like that," Batts said.

Batts said their Bear Wise program protects the community and the bears.

"We went from having very few bears in North Carolina only left in the swamps of eastern North Carolina in the remote mountains to now we have nearly 20,000 bears," he said. "If you see a bear, enjoy it and stay a safe distance from it. They don't see very well so if it happened to come towards you, make yourself really big and speak to it in a very firm voice and say, 'Mr. Bear, I don't want any problems. Please move on."

For more information on getting that bear wise certification, click here.
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