I know it is tempting and it may seem like a harmless act, believe me it is not. And as a visitor you may not know that doing so could cost you big time. The offense carries a severe criminal penalty. The maximum fine for that seeming harmless act is $5,000 and up to six months in prison. The offense carries a severe penalty because it puts both the human and the animal at serious risk.
As accustomed to sharing their mountains with humans as they have become, they are still wild animals and can weigh as much as 600 pounds. And as cute as those little cubs seem to be, you can be sure they are under the protection of Mama Bear who is always nearby. SO, LOOK, BUT DO NOT TOUCH! Watching our bears from a safe distance, like people watching, is a favorite Asheville sport. However, the North Carolina Wildlife Commission provides these “bear wise” tips on what to do if encountering a bear:
- If you see a bear before it notices you: stand still, do not approach, and enjoy the moment; then move away quietly in the opposite direction.
- If you encounter a bear that is aware of you: do not run; running may trigger a chase response. Back away slowly. Do not approach the bear. Quietly move away and leave the area.
- Give the bear a clear escape route.
- If you are a safe distance away from the bear, make loud noises, shout, or bang metal to scare it away.
BearWise is an organization with the mission to help people live responsibly with black bears. Their website, https://bearwise.org, is a great source of information when you are planning a trip to bear country.