Living around bears

Published 10:00 pm Monday, June 27, 2016

As the bear population grows and expands, human encounters with bears are bound to increase. Below is a discussion of some things that can be done to minimize the chance of bears becoming a problem in your area.

Garbage cans, bird feeders, pet food, livestock feed, etc. are all attractions to bears. Store these things in a secure place like a garage, etc. if possible.

If you encounter a bear at close range avoid eye contact, back up slowly and speak in a calm assertive voice. Do not run from the bear or climb a tree. Bears are great climbers. If a bear continues to come closer, talk in a more aggressive tone. As a last resort, throw rocks or tree limbs and try to fight back.

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Do not feed a bear and it will likely leave the area. A bear accustomed to having food provided is an accident waiting to happen!

Black bears are not generally aggressive, even when confronted by humans. However, they are large, powerful wild animals that must be respected. Twenty-five percent of bear attacks in the last five years have been in the Eastern U.S. In South Carolina alone, bear encounters have increased from twenty in 1990 to over 450 in recent years.

Having bears in our area does not necessarily represent a problem, and is usually temporary. Black bears are an important part of the Carolinas. The key to coexisting with bears is understanding and respecting them.

Bear facts: The black bear is the only species of bear found in the Carolinas. A males’ territory may be ten miles; a female, four to five miles. About 80 percent of the diet of black bears is plant matter – berries, nuts, etc., and 20 percent includes insects and meat. Adult bears typically weigh 175 to 375 pounds. A bear was harvested near Hog Back Mountain weighing over 500 pounds two years ago. Female bears begin breeding at about three and a half years old and generally have one to four cubs every other year.

So be smart, keep your distance and respect the monarch of the Southern Appalachians.

– article submitted
by Frank Lee