NC moun­tains are see­ing more bears and rainy weather might be play­ing role

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY JOE MARUSAK [email protected]­lot­teob­server.com Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067; @jmarusak

Res­i­dents in the N.C. moun­tains are see­ing more bears around their homes, cars and trash bins this sum­mer, and per­sis­tent heavy rains might be the rea­son, ex­perts say.

“We are hav­ing a lot of (bear) ac­tiv­ity in Asheville and other ar­eas,” Mike Car­raway, a wildlife bi­ol­o­gist with the N.C. Wildlife Re­sources Com­mis­sion, told the Ob­server dur­ing an interview Fri­day.

Pound­ing rains that have flooded parts of the moun­tains dur­ing re­cent weeks and monthsmight also have de­layed berries and other bear food in the wild from ripen­ing, he said.

So more bears are search­ing neigh­bor­hoods for food, Car­raway told the Ob­server.

Peo­ple have posted video of bears climb­ing through car win­dows to get at food and rum­mag­ing through trash bins and dump­sters.

Dar­lene Lar­gent was about to toss a bag of trash away while clean­ing a home on Town Mountain Road when “a bear popped up” from the dump­ster, she told The (Columbia) State re­cently.

“I said, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’ and ran back to the house. ‘I hope he don’t come run­ning!’ ” she told the news­pa­per.

Dur­ingMay, a res­i­dent snapped pho­tos of three young bears break­ing a car win­dow and climb­ing in to de­vour gro­ceries.

On Aug. 1, Al­li­son Hope Weems posted an adorable photo on Facebook of a black bear and a cub re­lax­ing on chairs in her friend’s back­yard in the North Carolina mountain re­sort com­mu­nity of Avalon, 30 miles west of Asheville.

Car­raway told the Ob­server “it’s kind of nat­u­ral,” how­ever, to have bears com­ing so close to peo­ple in Asheville.

The bear pop­u­la­tion has in­creased in West­ern North Carolina for 25 to 30 years, he said, and Asheville has “hun­dreds” of them.

He es­ti­mated that 6,000 to 8,000 bears live in the west­ern part of the state.

Mean­while, he said, the hu­man pop­u­la­tion has in­creased in the area, too.

Facebook photo

Bi­ol­o­gists with the North Carolina Wildlife Re­sources Com­mis­sion re­port lots of bear ac­tiv­ity in Asheville.

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