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Monday, June 13, 2022

Bear Spotted at the Big Bear Bark Park

A bear was spotted near Big Bear Dog Park on the Greenway this morning. It was in a Sycamore Tree, having apparently crossed the river. Officer Dwayne Cabe estimated the bear was about 165 lbs in size.

 Franklin Police Officers and personnel from Macon County Parks and Recreation kept an eye on the bear and warned people away from the tree from around 8am to 10:30am when it finally made a break for it and it fled into the swamp for some privacy from all the prying eyes. Photos by Bobby Coggins.

The Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests are receiving reports of bear encounters throughout western North Carolina. Reports over the past few weeks were concentrated in the Pisgah, Appalachian, and Nantahala Ranger Districts. Bears are most active around sunrise and after sunset.

  The forest service reports bears have been tearing down bear bags from trees, carrying off backpacks, spending hours near campsites and being unaffected by efforts to scare them away. A hard-sided, bear-resistant canister is the best way to keep bears from accessing human food and scented items.

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Here are some tips on keeping safe around bears from

If you encounter a bear:

  • Do not panic. Stop what you are doing and evaluate the situation.
  • Make your presence known by speaking in a calm tone. Don’t startle the bear.
  • Alter your route or back away slowly, preferably in the direction you came.
  • Walk, do not run, and keep your eye on the bear so you can see how it reacts. In most cases, the bear will flee.
  • If the bear walks toward you, act boldly, yelling and throwing something at it. Do not climb a tree.
  • If you have bear spray, remove the safety, and be ready to use it if the bear approaches you.

Special Precautions For Dogs In Bear Country

Bringing your dog into bear country? Chances are good that sooner or later your dog may encounter a bear. Understanding why some encounters end peacefully and others end with dogs and people injured or killed can help keep people, dogs and bears safe.

Bears don’t like to be chased or cornered; letting a dog chase or bark at a bear is asking for trouble. The bear may feel threatened and respond by defending itself. Why put your dog, your family and yourself at risk? Keep dogs leashed at all times, even in camp, or leave them at home. For lots more information, download our free BearsWise bulletin about bears and dogs.

BearWise Jogging And Cycling

Traveling quickly and quietly makes it easy to surprise a bear. Sometimes bears don’t respond well to surprises. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings; try not to disappear into “the zone.” Talking to your group or making noise now and then is good; listening to music or talking on the phone is distracting. Bear spray is tough to get at if it’s buried in a backpack but fits nicely into a bike’s water cage or hip or fanny pack.

Do Your Homework

Standing at the trailhead isn’t the best time to discover that the trail you picked goes through active bear country and you left your bear spray at home.

If you’re away from home, talk to your host or the locals about bear activity. Local outdoor stores and visitors’ centers can be great sources of information.

If you’re headed to a park or forest, visit their website before you go and then stop in at the visitor’s center and talk to staff and check trail conditions or closures. Some visitor’s centers and trailheads have wildlife activity signboards you can check. Many parks and forests have food storage guidelines and other regulations, so be prepared and know before you go.

If you’re heading into the backcountry, it’s even more important to familiarize yourself with the local food storage regulations and recommendations before you go. Losing all your food on day one will take all the fun out of a multi-day adventure.

Carry bear spray and know how to use it. Check the expiration date before you leave home. And brush up on the bear spray basics so you understand how to use it effectively. Local regulations on using bear spray may vary, so know before you go.

Bears everywhere thank you for reading up on how to be BearWise outdoors. Have fun, stay safe and thanks for helping to keep bears wild.

Published at 11:40am on Monday, June 13, 2022
Author: Bobby Coggins, with excerpts from and National Forests in North Carolina.