North Carolina’s human population is increasing and many new homes are built in occupied bear range each year. Due to the adaptable nature of bears and improved management by wildlife agencies, black bear populations are increasing and bear range is expanding in North Carolina. As a result, bears and people are coming into contact with each other more frequently. Many citizens of North Carolina wish to see bears continue to thrive in the state. The challenge is to learn how problems with bears can be avoided in residential areas that are in or near bear habitat.
Bear Encounter Guidelines
- If a bear approaches you, stay calm.
- ABSOLUTELY DO NOT RUN (running may elicit a chase response in the bear).
- Pick up small children so they don’t run, scream or panic.
- Gather the group together and restrain your dog.
- Let the bear know you are human; talk in a soothing voice; lift arms overhead to look bigger.
- Slowly back away and avoid direct eye contact with the bear.
- If the bear lunges, snaps his jaws, slaps ground or brush with paw, he feels threatened -you are too close. Back up slowly without turning your back on the bear.
- The bear may also suddenly rush forward and stop as a “bluffing” tactic to intimidate you to leave; momentarily hold your ground, then keep backing away and talking softly.
- Don’t crowd the bear; leave him a clear escape route.
- Retreat from the area or make a very wide detour around the bear.
- If he continues to follow you, stand your ground and yell, clap your hands, wave your arms, or throw something toward him – repeat until he leaves.
- As a last resort – drop something like a hat to distract him but avoid tossing him food as he will quickly learn to confront other humans for food rewards.
DO NOT FEED BEARS
- Feeding bears rewards them for coming into residential areas. Bears feeding on unnatural food sources around your home may lose their fear of humans and will be more likely to approach people – a situation that rarely ends well for the bear and could have potential safety issues for humans as well!
REMOVE OR SECURE ALL POTENTIAL FOOD SOURCES
- Store garbage inside buildings or other areas that bears cannot get to.
- If the area is served by a garbage collection service, place garbage and recyclables out only during the day of collection.
- Purchase bear-proof garbage cans or bear-proof your existing garbage container by outfitting it with a secure latching system.
DO NOT LEAVE PET FOODS OUT OVERNIGHT
- If pets are fed outside remove any excess food after the animals have finished eating.
- Never store pet food on a porch or in an open garage where a bear can get to it.
CLEAN OUTDOOR GRILLS
- After you use an outdoor grill clean it thoroughly and make sure that all grease and fat residues are removed.
COMPOST PILES ATTRACT BEARS
- Although there usually isn’t much food available in a compost pile the odor is enough to draw the interest of a curious bear. Avoid putting pasta or oils in a compost pile.
REMOVE BIRD FEEDERS/HUMMINGBIRD FEEDERS IF BEARS ARE IN AREA
- Do not hang bird feeders from your house or deck. Suspend feeder from a free-hanging wire away from your home, making sure it is at least 10 feet off the ground and at least 10 feet away from the trunk of a tree.
- Bring bird feeders indoors at night.
- Make bird feeder inaccessible to bears
- Let neighbors in the area know of the bear and ensure that no one is intentionally or unintentionally feeding black bears. One person feeding bears can create a problem bear that may affect the entire neighborhood.
- There are no repellents that are registered for use on bears. Some have found that sprinkling ammonia or other strong disinfectants on garbage can mask food odor
- Make sure dumpsters are bolted and locked and chain down heavy metal garbage cans and secure the lids.
- Wood or plastic dumpster lids do not keep bears out. Replace these with metal lids that can be locked an,d make sure sliding side doors can be latched so only humans can open them.
FRIGHTENING OR SCARING THE BEAR
- Shouting, clapping, blasting a car horn or motion sensitive lights may scare off a bear temporarily. Do not taunt a bear if it fails to respond to your efforts to frighten it. These methods are only temporary solutions.
- Sometimes when a bear sighted, crowds may gather. This seemingly harmless situation can be aggravated or became potentially harmful as the crowd grows. People can cause bears to display unpredictable behavior. Law enforcement personnel should disperse crowds and allow the bear to exit without interference.