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Black Bear Sightings Increase in Greenville and Upstate South Carolina, Prompting Calls for Coexistence Strategies

Bear in urban setting

Bear Encounters On The Rise In Greenville, Upstate South Carolina

South Carolina, particularly Greenville and its upstate region, has been abuzz following an increase in black bear sightings. A local resident recently took to social media to share a video he filmed of a black bear in his yard, which has prompted concerns about a growing bear population.

Shared Encounters

On May 29, Ron Greene shared a video of a black bear he named “Yogi,” swiping at his bird feeder before ambling off. Bear sightings have not been confined to Greene’s backyard; residents in Anderson and Spartanburg have also reported such instances. Such encounters, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), are tied to human migration into areas traditionally known as bear territory, like South Carolina’s coastal areas and mountains.

However, SCDNR’s black bear biologist, Tammy Waldrop, is quick to caution against fear and panic. Instead, she advises learning how to live with these majestic creatures, which calls for a change in human behavior and activities to ensure a balance between human activities and bear presence.

Upstate Bear Activity

Waldrop indicated that there has been an influx of calls from concerned residents regarding bear sightings. She attributes the heightened bear fear to the sharing of bear photos on social media, which causes a ripple effect as residents check their own home security cameras for signs of bear presence.

According to Waldrop, the Upstate region is home to an estimated 700-1000 bears. SCDNR is planning a population survey using a hair snare technique to get more accurate bear population figures. The survey entails hanging scented barbed wire on trees to attract bears. The bears, on contact with the wire, invariably leave behind hair that is then analyzed genetically.

Bear Country in South Carolina

Black bears are common in North America and are rampant on the eastern coast. In South Carolina, they inhabit the coastal plains and the upper Piedmont regions, including the mountains. Even urban areas like downtown Greenville and communities like Berea are familiar grounds for these bears.

“We live in bear country,” says Waldrop. “And it’s not something to be afraid of, it’s something to be educated about.”

Black bears select their habitats based on factors like den sites, food, and water availability. Male bears’ habitats can span 18 to 160 square miles, while female ones usually range between 6 to 19 square miles.

Staying Safe

In light of the increase in bear sightings, here are some of the SCDNR’s tips on ensuring safety when encountering a bear:

  • Always stay alert.
  • Never approach a bear for any reason.
  • If you’re planning on taking a photo of a bear, do it from a safe distance.
  • Never feed bears or other wildlife.
  • Equip yourself with pepper spray, which can stall a charging bear if aimed at the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Safety around bears mainly requires using common sense and giving the animals the space they need. As bear encounters become more commonplace, creating a positive coexistence between humans and these animals is increasingly vital.

Black Bear Sightings Increase in Greenville and Upstate South Carolina, Prompting Calls for Coexistence Strategies Spartanburg SC

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