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Be prepared for bears this summer

As the weather begins to heat up in Beaufort County, American black bear sightings will start to increase. 

Black bears are most active during late spring, summer and early fall. Bears are foragers and can wander into residential areas when looking for food. 

According to the N.C. Wildlife Commission, Beaufort County experienced 26 to 50 reports of human-bear interaction in 2019, making Beaufort County one of only six in the state to receive more than 25 reports of human-bear interactions. 

The most recent human-bear interaction in Beaufort County occurred in Chocowinity on Friday. A black bear wandered into oncoming traffic and was struck by a car along U.S. Highway 17 South. Because of injuries sustained in the collision, the bear had to be put down. 

Situations like these will become more common over the next few months. Bears tend to be more active at dawn and dusk and can be found exploring Beaufort County until the end of fall, when hibernation usually begins. 

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in partnership with BearWise has several tips for preventing conflict with black bears in our area:

  • Never feed or approach bears. Intentionally feeding bears or allowing them to find anything that smells or tastes like food teaches bears to approach homes and people looking for more. Bears will defend themselves if a person gets too close, so don’t risk your safety or theirs. 
  • Secure food, garbage and recycling. Food and food odors attract bears, so don’t reward them with easily available food, liquids or garbage. 
  • Remove bird feeders when bears are active. Birdseed and grains have lots of calories, so they’re very attractive to bears. Removing feeders is the best way to avoid creating conflicts with bears. 
  • Clean and store grills. Clean grills after each use and make sure that all grease, fat and food particles are removed. Srote clean grills and smokers in a secure area that keeps bears out. 
  • Alert neighbors to bear activity. If you see bears or evidence of bear activity in your area, tell your neighbors and share information on how to avoid bear conflicts.

For more information about black bears and how to avoid potential conflicts with these animals, visit the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission website at ncwildlife.org.