Carolina is hosting the bears.
No, this isn’t about football, but rather a city-wide campaign by residents of Asheville, NC to figure out how to manage the influx of black bears now wandering its streets.
As reported in the Wall Street Journal:
“Hundreds of black bears are building dens within Asheville’s city limits, roaming streets based on garbage-pickup schedules and scavenging in backyards for bird seed. Bears are particularly hungry this time of year, consuming as many as 20,000 calories a day in preparation for snuggling in their dens from late December to late March.
Fearing inter-species clashes, researchers with the Urban/Suburban Bear Study plan to coach 2,000 residents in two Asheville neighborhoods on such measures as securing garbage in bear-proof containers, cleaning grills after use and using bird feeders only in winter when bears are inactive.”
The aim of the program is to facilitate better bear-human relations. Conservationists believe by taking the right measures they can get bears to “nibble on acorns in the woods behind a home rather than lick yogurt containers in the recycling bin in the driveway.”
Much of the problem stems from a rapid growth in bear numbers across the Tar Heel state. Statewide, estimates are that bear numbers have grown from around 3,000 in the 1970’s to around 20,000 today. In the Ashville area in particular, the growth has risen from roughly 1,000 in 1980 to 4000 at present. This rapid increase in population has served to spike the number of complaints about bears nearly fivefold in the last 20 years.
Other towns in North Carolina are also taking measures to handle swelling black bear episodes. In nearby Highlands, NC, the town council passed an ordinance to require its residents to purchase bear-proof garbage containers. And the good news: Once implemented, incidences of marauding bears downtown all but diminished, according to officials.
For more information, check out the full article in the Wall Street Journal.