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Bear sightings reported around Charlotte

NC Wildlife Resources Commission emphasizes ways for people to coexist with black bears.

A black bear forages on vegetation in a field.

North Carolina has a rising black bear population, making human encounters more likely.

Photo by Thomas Fuhrmann via Wikimedia Commons

“Honey! There’s a bear in the backyard!”

A bear rummaging your patio may come as a surprise — but human encounters with these top predators are more common heading into summer.

On Saturday, June 8, a black bear was caught on camera strolling through a Tega Cay backyard around 7:15 a.m. Shortly after, Tega Cay Police issued a notice warning people in the area to keep a sharp eye.

The sighting in Tega Cay is one of three recorded bear sightings since Friday, May 31 near people’s homes — including Huntersville and Lake Norman.

“Mother bears have emerged from their den with their cubs, one-year-old bears are leaving their family group and roaming to find a new home,” said Colleen Olfenbuttel, a bear expect with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. “With breeding season just around the corner, male bears are starting to travel extensively searching for mates. Also, bears are hungry after hibernation, so they are all roaming around looking for food.”

Want to avoid a possible bear encounter?

  • Never feed or approach bears
  • Secure food, garbage, and recycling
  • Remove bird feeders when bears are active
  • Never leave pet food outdoors
  • Clean and store grills and smokers
  • Alert neighbors to bear activity
Close up of black bear cub's face

Two bear cubs were recovered and brought to a wildlife refuge in Asheville after being handled by people wanting to take pictures.

Photo via Appalachian Wildlife Refuge

Editor’s note: Calls to NCWRC’s Wildlife Helpline about possible orphaned cubs also increase this time of year. Remember the Internet-famous bear cub taken from a tree by a group of people at an Asheville apartment complex for photos?

NCWRC advises that a bear cub seen alone is rarely orphaned or abandoned. You’re advised to give the mother plenty of room and time to reconnect with her cub. To avoid harming yourself or the bear cub:

  • Don’t handle it
  • Don’t attempt to catch it
  • Don’t remove it
  • Don’t feed it
  • Take note of your location and call the NC Wildlife Helpline (866-318-2401)
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