Wildlife Officials: Spring Weather Is Causing Bears To Move - WSPA.com

Wildlife Officials: Spring Weather Is Causing Bears To Move

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The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission says hikers and campers should expect to see bears on the move in the coming weeks as they look for something to eat. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission says hikers and campers should expect to see bears on the move in the coming weeks as they look for something to eat.
HAYWOOD COUNTY, N.C. -

As you seek relaxation and tranquility in the mountains of Western North Carolina, bears are looking for grub and leftovers.

"I did have a tent torn down one time by a bear on the Blue Ridge Parkway," said Rob Barnett of Mills River.

Barnett enjoys the outdoors and has come face-to-face with a bear more times than he would like to remember.

"The bear did come back and I had to run it off," says Barnett. "It was trying to get to my food in the back of my truck."

Black bears will do about anything to get a free meal and so, Barnett's experience isn't unusual.

In fact, the U.S. Forest Service issued a bear alert for the Shining Rock Wilderness Area in Haywood County after complaints of three different run-ins with the animals.

N. C. Wildlife Resources Commission Biologist Justin McVey says now is when hikers and campers will see bears.

"We have had a lot of nuisance bear reports this year. It has been pretty steady" McVey said.

McVey believes the reason why so many people are reporting problems with the animal is because there are more of them...

According to the NCWRC, the number of bears harvested this past hunting season was down 16 percent.

McVey says until the berry crop ripens in mid-June, bears will be out scavenging.

He adds it takes only one person to leave food out one time to reinforce a bear's behavior -- meaning it will come back to the place it found something to eat again and again.

While bears are typically scared of people, officials recommend to never get too close.

It's estimated that WNC is home to 5,000-6,000 black bears.

"People are going to have to learn to how to live with bears," McVey said.

"It doesn't bother me," says Barnett.

Although, Barnett admits he learned the hard way.

Officials say you are more likely to encounter a bear alone in the woods.

If you do see one, they recommend to make yourself look "big" -- wave your arms in the air, yell, stomp your feet.

If the bear doesn't run away, slowly back up.

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