Officials Offer Tips to Co-Exist With Black Bears in South Carolina

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With spring and warmer weather arriving, black bears are becoming more active, and during this time, bears are looking for easy food.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) wants to remind South Carolinians to secure food attractants such as garbage, bird feeders and pet food to prevent bears from stopping by. The most common human-bear conflicts involve unsecured food.

“The mere presence of a black bear does not necessarily represent a problem,” said Tammy Waldrop, an SCDNR black bear biologist stationed in Clemson. “Most bears are just passing through, but if there is an easy meal available, they will take advantage of it. The key to dealing with wandering bears is not giving them a reason to hang around. Removing any food source that would attract bears will significantly reduce any bear issues in residential areas.”

To help South Carolina residents better coexist with bears, Waldrop and the BearWise program offer these “Six At-Home BearWise Basics.”

  • Never feed or approach bears. Intentionally feeding bears or allowing them to find anything that smells or tastes like food teaches bears to approach homes and people looking for more.
  • Secure food, garbage and recycling. Food and food odors attract bears, so do not reward them with easily available food, liquids or garbage.
  • Remove bird feeders when bears are active. Birdseed and grains have lots of calories, so they are attractive to bears. Removing feeders is the best way to avoid creating conflicts with bears.
  • Never leave pet food outdoors. Feed pets indoors when possible. If you must feed pets outside, feed in single portions and remove bowls afterwards. Store pet food where bears cannot see or smell it.
  • Clean and store grills, smokers. Clean grills after each use and make sure that all grease, fat and food particles are removed. Store clean grills and smokers in a secure area that keeps bears out.
  • Alert neighbors to bear activity. See bears in the area or evidence of bear activity? Tell your neighbors and share info on how to avoid bear conflicts.

While people may be excited about seeing a bear, SCDNR wants them to remember that bears are wild animals and should be respected. Black bears are usually shy, evasive and non-aggressive toward people. People and black bears can live in the same area with little conflict by following some basic rules. For more information on living responsibly with black bears, visit https://bearwise.org.

If you see a black bear, you can report it at: https://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/bear/sightingform.html.

For black bear emergencies, call 1-800-922-5431 or 911.