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Bear Spotted In Raleigh, 'Looking For A Place To Live'

black bear
Casey Brown
Flickr/Creative Commons

Early Monday, officials were tracking a bear in the Five Points area of Raleigh. WRAL reported that information about the bear began to come in after midnight.

A mailman working in the area told WRAL News that a couple reported seeing the bear near a home under construction at the corner of Carroll and Whitaker Mill Road.

The state's black bear population has been growing steadily, helped in part by hunting restrictions put in place after the number of bears in the state declined dramatically.

Greg Batts is  a wildlife biologist with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. He says that the bear in Raleigh was likely looking for a place to live.

"These particular bears that end up in the southern part of Raleigh seem to come up and trail right along I-40," he said.  "These are juvenile sub-adult male bears. They stay with their mother for the first two years of their life. And then mom kicks them out. She's getting ready to breed again so she doesn't want anybody breeding with brothers so she kicks them out and they have to go their on way and find their own place in the world."

The young bears are most commonly seen in urban areas in the month of June, and the start of July.

The state runs bear sanctuaries across the state, protected areas where bears can raise their young in peace. Even so, more bears are being spotted in populated areas.

"You know, I've already had multiple reports of bears in and around the Raleigh area this year. I've had several  reports of a bear up in the northern part of Wake County up around Wake Forest. And we actually found [a bear] that was found dead that was technically inside the city limits of Raleigh," Batts said. That was a 160-pound male bear.

Bears can and do live in and around people. The problem is the people themselves. People are afraid of bears and don't want them around.

"We're currently doing an urban bear study in Asheville, where they're actually catching bears right in the city limits, putting radio collars on those animals to see how they move in and around people."

Batts suggests that people limit food in outside areas, places like bird-feeders. But also, if you see a bear, take a minute to enjoy the majesty of the animal.

'Just watch and enjoy the bear as it passes through because that's what it's doing, it's just passing through.'

"Just watch and enjoy the bear as it passes through because that's what it's doing, it's just passing through and I can guarantee you that he is way more scared of you than you are of him. I know that's hard to believe, but it's the truth."

Greg Batts notes that if you do come into close contact with a bear, raise your hands up and back away slowly, while speaking loudly and firmly to the bear. Say something like, "Mr. Bear, I don't want any problems I am getting out of your way, I am backing out of your way." Do not turn and run.

Carol Jackson has been with WUNC since 2006. As Digital News Editor, she writes stories for, and helps reporters and hosts make digital versions of their radio stories. She is also responsible for sharing stories on social media. Previously, Carol spent eight years with WUNC's nationally syndicated show The Story with Dick Gordon, serving as Managing Editor and Interim Senior Producer.
Eric Hodge hosts WUNC’s broadcast of Morning Edition, and files reports for the North Carolina news segments of the broadcast. He started at the station in 2004 doing fill-in work on weekends and All Things Considered.
Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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