Officials Warn Of Bears Venturing Into Residential Areas Looking For Food

By Sarah Tate

October 12, 2020

As bears prepare for hibernation, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission warns residents that the animals may venture further from their typical habitat in order to forage for food. Because this means bears could be seen in campgrounds and residential areas, the commission gave some tips on how to prevent bears from getting into residents' trash.

"Store bags of trash inside cans in a garage, sheds or other secure area, or use garbage cans or trash containers with a secure latching system or that are bear-resistant," said Colleen Olfenbuttel, the Commission's black bear biologist. "Place trash outside as late as possible, on trash pick-up days — not the night before."

In a news release issued last week, the commission said bears' appetites are biologically programmed to go into "hyperdrive" during fall so they can build up the thick layer of fat needed to survive the winter. As such, they will sometimes wander into more populated areas for food. The commission encourages residents to remove food sources left outdoors, such as pet food and bird seed, and to clean any outdoor grills that could draw a bear's attention.

"No matter where you are or where you live, if you encounter a bear, the most important thing to do is leave the bear alone," said Olfenbuttel. "Don't feed it or chase it off — we can't stress this enough. Crowds of people can unnerve a bear, perhaps causing it to act defensively."

According to the release, black bears are not aggressive by nature and would most likely retreat back to their natural habitat if they can't find food in a residential area. More information about black bears and how to safely coexist with them, visit

Photo: Getty Images

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