With the onset of spring, black bears are emerging from dens. During this time, bears are looking for easy food located in the coastal plains and piedmont areas of South Carolina.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) wants to remind South Carolinians to secure food attractants such as garbage, bird feeders, and pet food to prevent bears from stopping by. The most common human-bear conflicts involve unsecured food attractants. The mere presence of a black bear does not necessarily represent a problem. Most bears are just passing through, but if there is an easy meal to be found, they will take advantage of it. The key to dealing with wandering bears is not giving them a reason to hang around. Removing any food source that would attract bears will significantly reduce any bear issues in residential areas.
SCDNR offers these suggestions to better coexist with bears:
• Birdfeed and feeders: If a bear starts getting into your bird feeders, take the feeders down and put them away for a while; the bear will move on quickly.
• No garbage: Keep garbage in tightly shut or bear-proof trash cans. Garbage left in the open, in an open dumpster, or in the back of a truck is an open invitation for a bear.
• Pet food storage: Store pet food properly if kept outside. Put pet food in airtight storage containers, and don't leave leftover food out in the open.
• Clean grills: Keep charcoal and gas grills covered and clean to keep food odors from attracting bears.
• Beehives: If you're going to have beehives in bear territory, protect your investment with an electric, bear-proof fence.
• No feeding: A bear that becomes accustomed to having food provided is an accident waiting to happen. Feeding bears promote nuisance behavior.
• Keep wildlife wild. NEVER approach a bear for any reason, especially for a photo. Bears can defend themselves. Give bears their space and they will move on. If you are camping in bear territory, follow these guidelines:
• Keep a clean camp at all times. Keep tents and sleeping bags free of food.
• Hang all food, trash, and other odorous items well away from camp and at least 10 feet above ground and 4 feet from any vertical support, or store in a bear-proof container.
• Treat livestock feed the same as human food. While people may be excited about seeing a bear, we want you to remember that bears are wild animals and should be respected.
Black bears are usually shy, evasive, and non-aggressive toward people. People and black bears can live in the same area with little conflict by following basic rules. If you see a black bear, you can report it here: https://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/bear/sightingform.html For black bear emergencies, please call 1-800-922-5431 or 911.