Approximately 8,000 black bears range around western North Carolina, and many of those make Asheville part of their meandering. They are often comfortable enough with their human neighbors to den inside the city limits. Just recently, one Asheville resident thought they had a raccoon in their crawl space. There was a persistent scratching sound from beneath the floorboards. The homeowner ordered a couple of traps, but when a big furry black paw poked out from the latticework, they knew their small “have-a-heart trap” was not going to do the job. One of Asheville’s black bears had selected the homeowner’s crawl space as its den for a nice winter nap!
Don’t be surprised as a guest of Applewood Manor if you encounter one of the furry friends we share our town with. In fact, we would be surprised if you did not. But you do need to be “bear wise”. 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 from the human side, as cute as those little cubs are, 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, if you are out in the open, the North Carolina Wildlife Commission provides these “bear wise” tips on what to do if encountering a bear:
- Do not approach the bear. Quietly move away and leave the area.
- If you are a safe distance away from the bear, make loud noises, shout, or bang pots and pans together to scare it away.
- Give the bear a clear escape route.
Asheville humans have adjusted their behavior to live happily with their bear neighbors—things like bird feeders or feeding pets outside are a “no no”, and there are special practices concerning trash, garbage, and food scraps. Ashevillians love their bears but understand that safe co-habitation depends on each keeping their distance.