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Black bear sighting spike in North Carolina

The state is already reporting a spike in black bear sighting reports this spring.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Be on the lookout for more black bears in North Carolina.

The state is already reporting a spike in black bear sighting reports this spring.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission said one reason is because the state’s residential footprint has grown and more people are moving closer into bear habitats.

“Most bears that wander into a residential area will quickly retreat to their natural habitat, particularly if no food source is around. By following the six BearWise Basics the public can prevent potential conflicts and live responsibly with bears,” said Colleen Olfenbuttel, the Wildlife Commission’s black bear and furbearer biologist.

Olfenbuttel said you should never feed or approach a bear. Here are more safety guidelines when it comes to bears.

The six BearWise Basics include:

  • Never feed or approach a bear — either intentionally or unintentionally. Feeding bears trains them to look for food by approaching homes and people. Bears are particularly attracted to bird seed, hummingbird feeders, garbage and other human-associated foods, like pet food. Bears will defend themselves if a person gets too close, so do not risk your safety or theirs.
  • Secure food, garbage and recycling. Food and food odors attract bears so don’t reward them with easily available food or garbage. Store bags of trash inside cans in a garage, shed or other secure area; or use garbage cans or trash containers with a secure latching system or that are bear-resistant. Place trash outside as late as possible on the morning of trash pick-up — not the night before.
  • Remove bird feeders when bears are active. Birdseed, other grains and hummingbird feeders have high-calorie content making them very attractive to bears.
  • Never leave pet food outdoors. Feed outdoor pets portion sizes that will be completely eaten during each meal and remove the empty food bowl.
  • Clean and store grills. Make sure all grease, fat and food particles are removed, even from the drip tray, after each use. Once the grill is clean, store it in a bear-resistant location, like a garage or shed.
  • Alert neighbors to bear activity. Share information with your friends and neighbors about recent bear activity and how to avoid bear conflicts. Bears have adapted to living near people; now it is up to people to adapt to living near bears.