How to be "Bear Wise" - Part 1

Western NC is arguably the best place on Earth. We live within a lush, diverse, colorful ecosystem abundant with life whether it be plant or animal. Asheville, Hendersonville and Waynesville area’s are attracting more and more visitors and residents every year who wish to partake not only in the unique cultures of our area, but the outdoors and wildlife, too. But long before man arrived, or more specifically Europeans, the black bear dominated this region as well as many others in the southeastern United States.

European’s pretty much wiped out the black bear, but according to BearWise - a non-profit organization which aims to prevent conflicts between human and bear & provides resources to resolve problems - the black bear is once again making a dramatic comeback. They estimate 70,000 black bears in the southeast and of that, 20,000 within NC - the most heavily black bear populated area in the region.

Anyone who lives in WNC will tell you that more and more black bears are being sighted and causing a nuisance within the cities, towns & villages of our area. Humans are in fact invading in to historic & native lands of the black bear. To ensure peaceful coexistence between human and bear, we offer the following 6 tips to be “bear wise”.

Tip #1 - Do Not Feed Bears

Yes, they are cute especially the cubs, but these are wild animals and should remain so. Don’t intentionally feed them or leave food for them to find as they will become less hesitant to approach humans and homes looking for handouts.

Tip #2 - Secure Garbage

Who hasn’t woken up to find your garbage or recycling bin contents strewn across your yard? Bears are attracted to the smell of food and garbage and recycling bins are like bear buffets. Make sure you have these put away in a location bears can’t get to or secure the lids with straps or locks.

Tip #3 - No Bird Feeders

You love you birds, and we have so many different kinds to awe after. But the bird seed and other grains have a lot of calories which bears love. It’s best to remove bird feeders during bear season as not to attract them.

Tip #4 - No Pet Food Outdoors

If you feed Fido outside, don’t forget to bring the bowl and any other food back indoors when done. Bears like animal food just as much as human food.

Tip #5 - Clean & Store Grills

Who doesn’t love food cooked on a grill? The smell of grilling alone makes my mouth water. Guess who else likes grills - bears. Try to keep you grill clean of grease and particles and stored in an area bears can’t get to.

Tip #6 - See a Bear, Tell Someone

If you sight bear activity in your area, it’s the neighborly thing to do to sound the alarm. Though black bears rarely become aggressive and attack humans, again they are wild animals. And you really don’t want to come between a cub and it’s mom…no way.

Look for Roost Home Watch to publish “How to be ‘Bear Wise’ - Part 2” which will offer tips on being “bear wise” when enjoying our great outdoors.

A Tip from Roost Home Watch 

Straps and locks on garbage and recycling bins work for the most part, but these bins are just plain unsightly all around. If you have to store these in front of your house, consider building a blind that not only will camouflage the bins but also add additional deterrent for bears.


Informed by BearWise.org. Photo by the Laurel of Asheville .