Be cautious around any bear

Published 11:05 am Thursday, June 17, 2010

AHOSKIE – Local officials have released an unusual BOLO.

This “Be on the Lookout” is for bear which may be wondering through Hertford County’s communities.

“We’ve had a high number of bear sightings in Hertford County over the past few months,” NC Wildlife Resources Officer Tim Wadsworth said. “We’re encouraging people to keep an eye out for them and to be cautious.”

While Wadsworth encourages people not to get close to a bear, he also said the animal is not likely to want anything to do with humans.

“If you see each other, more than likely, the bear is going the other way,” he said. “They don’t like to be around people any more than people like to be around them.”

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has strongly urged people to take simple steps to avoid problems with the animal.

Residents can prevent any potential problems by:

Securing bags of trash inside cans stored in a garage, basement or other secure area, and placing the cans outside, as late as possible, on trash pick-up days – not the night before.

 Purchasing bear-proof garbage cans or bear proofing your existing garbage container with a secure latching system.

 Discontinuing the feeding wild birds during spring and summer, even with feeders advertised as “bear-proof.” Bears are still attracted to seed that spills on the ground.

 Avoiding “free feeding” pets outdoors. If you must feed pets outdoors, make sure all food is consumed and empty bowls are removed.

 Cleaning all food and grease from barbecue grills after each use. Bears are attracted to food odors and may investigate.

The Commission warned that even though black bears are rarely aggressive toward people, they can become bold when they become accustomed to feeding on human foods such as garbage and bird seed. Oftentimes, this causes them to lose their fear of people.

Another reason a black bear may become more aggressive would be if a mother bear had cubs with them or if they are provoked.

“You’ll see them moving about this time of year because they’re mating,” Wadsworth cautioned. “Don’t leave bags of trash out. Put them securely in a trash can.”

Also, Wadsworth said those who discard grease outdoors should discontinue the practice.

Contrary to what has become popular belief, the NC Wildlife Commission does not trap and relocate bears.

“Trapping and relocating would simply relocate the problem rather than solve it,” Wadsworth explained. “The solution is for people to modify their habits.”

The main thing for people to do when they see a bear, however, is simply leave the animal alone.

“Just like any other wild animal, don’t get close to it,” Wadsworth said. “If you see a bear, call someone, but don’t let a crowd gather. Most of all, leave them alone.”

If anyone is concerned about safety when they see a bear, they can call the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission at 800-662-7137 or 919-707-0040 or call the local Sheriff’s Office or Police Department.