Increase in bear sightings in Waynesville

"Just Grin and Bear It"
By Brittney Champion, intern | May 29, 2014
Photo by: File photo Black bears have been seen across the county as they search for a food source.

This summer locals are beginning to notice black bears in their neighborhood for the first time. With an increase in heat, there has also been an increase of bear sightings across Haywood County.

Jim Shebesta has lived in the same house for 24 years off Joy Street in Waynesville, and this is the first time that he can remember seeing signs of bears.

“My neighbor called and said there was feces and he didn’t know what it was or where it came from. After research and contacting Animal Services, we determined it came from a black bear,” Shebesta said.

After this first incident another neighbor saw a bear running through their yard, and they have found more signs “left behind” within the past few weeks. There have been three witnesses, all questioning why they now have bears in their backyard.

Mike Carraway, a biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Commission confirmed an increase in bear activity.

“Bears are out and active looking for food. That’s why they end up near houses and in neighborhoods, they move where they can find a good food source,” he said.

He gave some reminders on precautions that need to be taken if there are bears in your neighborhood. Remember that the main thing is to remove all food sources. Take down bird feeders and don’t leave trash out over night, also make sure that pets are kept inside at night. 

Bears cannot be relocated for being on private property and Animal Control Services will respond only to keep persons from the bears.

Shebesta has found a few other helpful tips to keep in mind when dealing with bears. Although black bears are generally nonaggressive, if there is a mother with cubs leave them alone. One should not approach or try and frighten them away because they easily will turn on you. If you do see a bear going through your trash, just let them finish and then remove the trash when they are gone.

As Shebesta perfectly stated, “You just have to grin and bear it, no pun intended.”


Comments (1)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | May 30, 2014 11:31

Joy Street?!  As in one block off Main street?  Unbelievable.  I'm hoping it's an overgrown black German Shepherd.  I think there's an elementary school on Joy street, isn't there?

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