(Second in a three part series on bears in the mountains) 
If you spend much time outdoors in Western North Carolina either hiking, visiting waterfalls, fishing or nature walking the chances of encountering a black bear are very good.  Watching bears in their natural environment from a safe, respectable distance is very exhilarating.  Positive experiences by visitors and residents of The Highlands Plateau are far more common than negative.  Although extremely rare, meeting an aggressive bear sometimes occurs.  The following are some tips to avoid them.
  • Hiking in a group and during daylight hours.
  • Be aware. Learn about and watch for bear signs.
  • Overturned rocks or broken up rotten logs (bears foraging for grubs or insects)…..Claw marks on trees…..tracks in the dirt or snow……..Berries on the ground, plant root diggings, fur on the bark of trees
  • Stay away from food sources (wild berry patches, or fruit trees with fruit on the ground)and dead animals – bears may be foraging in the area or protecting a carcass.

If you see a bear, remain watchful.  DO NOT approach it.  If your presence causes the bear to change its behavior (stops feeding, looks at you, changes its travel direction)   YOU ARE TOO CLOSE!!  Don’t run away, just back away slowly, watching the bear.   

If the bear starts running toward you, making loud noises or swatting the ground, he is signaling that he needs more space.  Try to increase the distance between you and the bear.  The bear will probably do the same.   If it comes toward you without the paw swatting and loud noises and continues to follow you – Make yourself look as large as possible. Throw NON-Food objects such as rocks at the bear.  Use a deterrent such as a stout stick.  Do not run and don’t turn away from the bear.  Don’t leave food for the bear; this encourages further problems.

Most injuries from a Black Bear attack are minor as a rule from a bear attempting to get at food.  If the bear’s behavior indicated that it is after your food, and you are physically attacked, separate yourself from the food and slowly back away.   If the bear shows not show interest in your food, fight back aggressively with any available object – the bear may consider you prey!

Seeing a bear can be an exciting experience, but watch from a distance or from the safety of your home.

About the Author
BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOMESERVICES MEADOWS MOUNTAIN REALTY has been serving the Highlands NC and Cashiers NC areas offering exclusive mountain real estate and country club properties since 2003.

We recognize that there are many important aspects to consider in making a real estate choice. With that in mind, we listen closely to the needs and desires of each individual customer and work diligently to find the ideal mountain property or to sell your property as efficiently and effectively as possible. However, our job does not stop there.

Once you have made your real estate decisions, we are here to help you in any way that we can. It will be our pleasure to familiarize you with all aspects of the Highlands and Cashiers communities, including home, professional and personal services as well as activities, restaurants, health care and shopping. We will go the extra mile to ensure that your experience in the mountains exceeds your expectations.

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