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Living With The Black Bears In North Carolina

Can humans and black bears coexist? This question has become increasingly relevant in North Carolina as both the human and bear populations continue to grow. Black bears now live on about 60 percent of the state’s land and are very adaptable to different climates, which has led to an increase in human run-ins with black bears over the past two decades. 

An estimated 100 to 200 black bears live year round in Asheville, so what steps do humans need to take to adjust their behavior? Host Frank Stasio talks with two experts about their research on black bears and their tips for living responsibly with the animals.

Colleen Olfenbuttel is a black bear and furbearer biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. She shares her research and quick tips, including the importance of bear-proof trash cans and keeping bird feeders down when bears are active. District wildlife biologist Justin McVey also joins the conversation. He works for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and helps resolve human-bear issues in the western part of the state.

Find tips on living with black bears peacefully on the BearWise website.

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Amanda Magnus is the executive producer of Embodied, a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships and health. She has also worked on other WUNC shows including Tested and CREEP.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.