Wildlife commission offers tips on coexisting with black bears

Published 11:04 am Monday, May 2, 2011

As the weather warms, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is offering steps to avoid conflicts with black bears emerging from hibernation.

The commission is cautioning people to take care not to feed bears that wander into yards, parks, onto sidewalks or in other residential areas. Feeding a bear rewards it for coming near people and their homes and increases the likelihood that the bear will approach again.

While black bears are rarely aggressive toward people, they can become bold when they grow accustomed to feeding on human-provided foods, such as garbage and birdseed. Often, they lose their fear of people.

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Contrary to popular belief, wildlife employees will not trap and relocate bears, because this would simply relocate the problem, rather than solve it. The solution is to modify habits, such as how you feed your pet(s) or where you store your garbage, before a problem begins.

Residents can avoid problems 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 your existing garbage container 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 “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 food odors and may investigate.

For more information and more tips on black bears in North Carolina, read “Preventing and Resolving Black Bear Conflicts” at www.ncwildlife.org.