The black bear population in Western North Carolina is growing, which means there are more bears looking for food. When bears discover food that is easy to access and high in fat or calories, they will continue to return to that food source. Many people are unintentionally teaching bears that they can provide them with food, such as garbage, bird seed, and dog food. Bears become conditioned to return to a site that provides a great food source.
Food-conditioned bears are bears that continue to return to locations of human-provided foods even when there are people around or other deterrents that would normally scare a bear away. This can be dangerous for the bear and for the humans. We will hopefully always have bears living in the woods surrounding Black Mountain, and the woods are where bears belong. It is only when they encounter an easy source of food, such as pet food, bird seed, or garbage that the bears begin to consider our neighborhoods and towns suitable places to return to find more food. Don’t feed bears.