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Number of bear encounters increases as bear families grow

Clemens Stefani and his wife were surprised by how much attention they received for pictures they posted of bears in their neighborhood. (Photo credit: Clemens Stefani)

Clemens Stefani and his wife were surprised by how much attention they received for pictures they posted of bears in their neighborhood.

"I saw them getting the garbage," Stefani said. "It’s a big family. I don’t want to mess with their mother."

The pictures show a mother bear and her five cubs foraging for food in the dumpster outside Stefani's apartment complex.

Wildlife Biologist Mike Carraway said large bear families are becoming more and more normal in Asheville. He said the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission estimates there are about 170 bears in or around city limits. Carraway said the mother bears have so much access to food, they are healthier and, therefore, having larger families. It becomes a cycle.

"Bears in town are having lots of cubs, and that makes the bear population grow," Carraway explained, saying the human population in Asheville has increased, too.

"What we’ve seen is an increase in bear/human interactions," Carraway said. "We’ve been pretty amazed at how well bears can coexist with people in urban areas. They’re generally a nuisance and not a real problem."

Carraway said it's important not to feed bears because that will encourage them to come closer to homes and cars. In some instances, bears have been able to open car doors and have destroyed the interiors of the vehicles. It is also important to keep an eye on your pets and secure garbage.



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