In the midst of the Garden of Eden, even Adam and Eve were warned. Stay away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was their only edict. The rest of the wonders was at their disposal. While we dare not venture onto the scholastic terrain of Biblical exegesis nor do we suppose that The Park on Main® compares in the least to the First Couple’s original home (well, almost), we do have a few admonitions we wish to broadcast to our guests.
While guests at The Park on Main® may exercise their rightful dominion over their fury, friendly companions of the animal kingdom – their pets – we urge them to take special notice of the American black bear, and to keep a distance.
While residents of Highlands, North Carolina hardly share their surroundings with the black bear (sightings are uncommon, although occasional), the bear is not exactly a social creature. And a sudden, well-meaning and perhaps social visit with a bear by one of your pets – or even you perhaps – may not be interpreted or reciprocated by the bear in the same manner.
What we’re saying – as we beat around the linguistical bushes – is an encounter with a black bear can turn ugly, which is why we’re providing this information, to help prevent confrontations.
All About Black Bears
According to Defenders of Wildlife, American black bear are omnivorous; that means they have a diet similar to many of ours. They generally enjoy plants, fruits, nuts, insects, honey, salmon and … ahem … small mammals. The black bear is the smallest of the three species of bears in North America, Defenders of Wildlife states. They have short, non-retractable claws that make for excellent tree climbing. And that means, from their perches, they may see you before you see them.
Wildlife experts estimate more than 300,000 black bears live in the United States; the Louisiana black bear and the Florida black bear are subspecies of the American black bear.
Keep Your Distance
While spotting a black bear in nature is an awesome sight, you should keep your distance and find an alternative route. They are found mostly in forests with thick vegetation. They are generally loners, and slightly on the irascible side. Black bears will, however, tolerate each other as long as there’s an abundance of food.
Their solitary, mind-your-own-business nature is usually set aside in mothers protecting their cubs. When there are little ones around, you don’t mess with mama. When feeling threatened, these females exemplify the adage about hell not having the fury of a woman scorned.
Most black bears hibernate during the winter months – except in areas with warmer climates or abundant food supplies. Mother black bears usually mate during the summer and produce 1-6 cubs with two being the norm.
While capable of killing humans and pets, American black bears typically seek to avoid contact with humans – unlike grizzly bears. Black bears, when confronted, will rarely attack, but may make mock charges, make blowing noises and swat the ground with their paws.
While rare, most black bear attacks stem from hunger rather than territory. Compared to other bears, especially the grizzly, aggressive black bear encounters rarely lead to serious injuries. So, if you are attacked by a black bear, it’s best to fight back, experts say.
Avoidance is Best
The best way to prevent an ugly encounter with a black bear is avoidance, according to BearSmart. Remember, black bears, which are quiet in nature, prefer to avoid people. And that in itself may sometimes lead to surprise bear encounters.
BearSmart recommends against moving through black bear habitat quietly or alone; you should travel in groups and make plenty of noise by talking or singing.
When you do approach a bear, keep your distance, wildlife experts say. Black bears have a strong sense of personal space. Keep calm; black bears are usually as frightened as you are. Respect the black bear’s territory. Turn around and leave the same way you entered. Or, if you must continue forward, consider finding a detour, giving the bear lots of space. If you’re camping, store your food properly and out of reach of bears.
Be sure to identify the bear – while grizzlies are rarer, they demand different techniques. If a black bear refuses to retreat or you have few options to escape crossing paths, act aggressively – stamp your feet, yell and try to make it look like you’re ready to fight. If you’re attacked, roll over, play dead and stay on your belly. If the black bear believes you are food, you have to fight.
Most of the time, black bears will retreat – the exceptions are when young male black bears are testing their dominance or when mother bears believe you are threatening their cubs.
Some caution and attention to your surroundings should greatly reduce the possibility of a black bear confrontation.
We at The Park on Main® hope you found this blog and these tips useful and helpful. We hope you have a pleasant time in the Highlands area and keep the black bears at a distance. Come visit us or make reservations today. Let us know how we can be of service to you by following us on social media channels.
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