RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s a sight you probably don’t want to see – a black bear wandering through your yard.
“This is definitely a spring and summer thing where we see a lot of these sightings,” said Falyn Owens, an Extension Wildlife Biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
For 10 years, she has studied how people and wildlife interact.
She said these black bear sightings are a seasonal matter.
“Springtime is when we get these young, sort of sub-adult bears that are trying to figure out where they want to spend the rest of their lives. And before they find that spot, they usually wander around quite a bit first. And this is when they pop up in neighborhood and cities, places where bears tend to not stick around permanently, but the bears are usually just wandering through,” Owens explained.
She explained it’s only a seasonal issue, not an issue of neighborhood expansion or development.
“A lot of people assume that bears and neighborhoods don’t mix very well, but bears are actually very food-motivated. And when they find a lot of food where people live they can be perfectly content to actually live in the city right alongside people,” she said.
Owens said there’s ways to discourage black bears from visiting your home.
She recommends removing food items that could make the bear want to stick around like garbage, bird feeders and pet food, and locking up your garbage in a trash can that bears can’t easily get into.
She also recommends cleaning and storing your grill inside your garage.
Owens offered some important advice for dog owners — if you have a dog, keep them on a leash.
“[Dogs] don’t realize that bears don’t want to play, potentially run up to a bear and maybe bark at it or jump at it, and that can pose a risk for the dog,” she said. “Keeping dogs on a leash is a great way to make sure they don’t get themselves in a situation where a bear might have to defend itself.”
If you see a black bear, Owens recommends telling your neighbors and reaching out to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission with any questions.
“We want to answer people’s questions so that they know what to do and how to peacefully coexist with whatever bears are passing through their area,” she said.
Click here or call 919-707-0040 to contact the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
Click here to learn more about black bears from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
If you are concerned about bears in your neighborhood, Owens recommends you visit Bear Wise’s website, an organization that helps people live responsibly with black bears.