Residents in the N.C. mountains are seeing more bears around their homes, cars and trash bins this summer, and persistent heavy rains may 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 Charlotte Observer in an interview on Friday.
Pounding rains that have flooded parts of the mountains in recent weeks and months may 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.
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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, S.C.) 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.
In May, 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.