Secure your trash cans! Bear spotted at Nags Head Woods

A black bear at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. [Refuge photo]

A black bear has been spotted in the less populated areas of Nags Head Woods the past couple weeks, prompting a warning from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission: Secure your trash cans!

Bear foot prints were first spotted a week ago and the bear was seen last night, said Wildlife Resources Commission Officer Anna Barbosa. The bear, or bears, haven’t been seen in any neighborhoods yet — and wildlife officials hope to keep it that way.

Barbosa said the commission wants to “educate the public in that area about securing any potential food sources, such as trash cans, pet food, and bird feeders that may encourage this bear to stick around.”

Dare County has a very robust population of black bears with the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge bear sanctuary nearby, and it’s not unusual for bears to swim across the sound.

In May 2018, a black bear was spotted ambling around the Town of Duck, munching on garbage from trash cans, but he quickly moved on. Earlier this spring, there were reports of another bear on the beach at Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Barbosa said there’s no cause for concern with our latest bear visitor, “we just want to make sure he’s not getting easy food sources.”

The commission offers the following tips for how to handle interactions with bears:

NEVER FEED OR APPROACH BEARS. Feeding bears (intentionally or unintentionally) trains them to approach homes and people for more food. Bears will defend themselves if a person gets too close, so don’t risk your safety and theirs!

SECURE FOOD, GARBAGE AND RECYCLING. Food and food odors attract bears so don’t reward them with easily available food or garbage.

REMOVE BIRD FEEDERS WHEN BEARS ARE ACTIVE. Birdseed and other grains have a high calorie content making them very attractive to bears. The best way to avoid conflicts with bears is to remove feeders.

NEVER LEAVE PET FOOD OUT. Feed outdoor pets portion sizes that will be completely eaten during each meal and remove leftover food and food bowl. Securely store these foods so nothing is available to bears.

CLEAN AND STORE GRILLS. After you use an outdoor grill, clean it thoroughly and make sure that all grease and fat is removed. Store cleaned grills and smokers in a secure area that keeps bears out.

LET NEIGHBORS KNOW. Share news with your friends and neighbors about recent bear activity and how to avoid bear conflicts. Bears have adapted to living near people; are you willing to adapt to living near bears?

For more information about eastern North Carolina’s black bears, see the following links:

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