Bear sightings common

Published 9:56 am Thursday, July 14, 2011

Libby and Dick Wright were eating breakfast when this bear decided to say hello Monday, June 27 on Darnall Lane off of Hogback Road in Tryon. (photo submitted)

Removal of food, trash best way to avoid bear contact
Bear sightings have become a common occurrence in the area. Bears seem to cross paths with humans in many Polk County and upstate South Carolina areas as frequently as deer or raccoons.
Libby and Dick Wright, Stephanie Kaneps and Scott and Karen Brunjes are among the Tryon residents who have recently had visits from bears in their backyards. Residents of the Jervey Road and Lake Lanier areas have also reported seeing the animals.
Some residents have commented that the bears seem to have no fear. Others have asked what they should do if they come in close contact with a bear.
Polk County Wildlife Officer Toby Jenkins said this year is similar to other years in terms of bear coming on private property.

Stephanie Kaneps spotted this bear at her bird feeder in Gillette Woods. (photo submitted)

“We have had bear in Polk County for a long time, but as development continues in rural areas and bear populations continue to grow, the interaction between humans and bear continues to rise as well,” said Jenkins.
On average, five to six bears are run over by vehicles annually in Polk County, most of them on I-26, according to Jenkins. Nine bears were reported as legal harvests by hunters last year, Jenkins said.
Jenkins said the number of sightings this year has not increased compared to the past several years.
To avoid bears coming on property, residents should remove any sources of food for the bear, such as bird feeders and unsecured garbage.
The N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission will not trap and relocate nuisance bears, partially because most conflicts with bears do not warrant trapping, Jenkins said. For example, a bear simply being in a neighborhood is not threatening.
In most cases, people are the cause of the problem and the best long-term solution involves removal of attractants rather than destruction of the bear, he said.
“Simply catching every bear that someone sees is not an option,” said Jenkins. “We have no remote places left to relocate bear where they will not come into contact with humans. Relocated bears often return to the place they were originally captured.”
Furthermore, the process of catching bears is difficult and can be more dangerous for the bear, the public and those involved than letting the bear take its natural course, according to Jenkins.
“This would simply move the problem, rather than solve it,” said Jenkins. “The solution is to modify your habits and prevent bears from being attracted to your home.”
According to the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission, black bear are the largest wild animal in North Carolina and are part of the state’s heritage. Female bears average 100 to 300 pounds, with male bears averaging 300-500 pounds, according to the N.C. Wildlife website ( When standing on all fours, black bears are about 5-6 feet long and stand 2-3 feet high.
There has never been an unprovoked bear attack on a human in North Carolina, according to the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission. If you come in close contact with a bear, N.C. Wildlife officials said, you should stay calm but try to make a lot of noise.

Preventing problems with black bears
To prevent problems with bears, do not feed them:
• Secure bags of trash inside cans stored in a garage, basement or other secure area.
• Place trash outside, as late as possible, on trash pick-up days — not the night before. Keep all garbage sites clean.
• If a bear is in the area, remove bird feeders and hummingbird feeders, even those advertised as “bear proof.”
• Avoid “free-feeding” pets outdoors. Do not leave pet foods out overnight. If you must feed pets outdoors, make sure all food is consumed and empty bowls are removed.
• Clean all food and grease from barbecue grill after each use. Bears are attracted to food odors and may investigate.
– source:

Left: Scott and Karen Brunjes of Cardinal Circle in Tryon saw this black bear coming out of their garage. (photo submitted by Karen Brunjes) Right: Another black bear sighted in Gillette Woods in Tryon. (photo submitted by Frances McCain)

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