CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The black bear is West Virginia’s official state animal, but an up-close encounter could cause more harm than good.
This time of the year, black bears are most active, seeking food which oftentimes can lead them into areas where they don’t belong.
WVDNR Black Bear Project Leader, Colin Carpenter said, “the bears are way more adaptable than we are. They’ve done really well at living in our environment, we just have to train ourselves to live with them in our neighborhood.”
Black bears wander out of their dens in early spring with one mission, to find food. However, according to the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, natural food is not readily available, so they settle for your trash.
“But then the bear starts getting habituated to people and it gets food-conditioned so then it starts losing its fear of people and then we take the food attractant away, then the bear becomes more persistent,” Carpenter said.
They will even feed off your bird feeders, and if you don’t contain the source immediately or try to intentionally feed them, you could end up with a serious situation.
“That’s when we see bears looking through windows or trying to break into your shed or things of that nature and that’s when it gets bad for the bear because once that bear becomes habituated to people and food contained, there isn’t a whole lot we can do for the animals,” Carpenter said.
Black bears are either put down or relocated when they are in these situations.
“The good thing is bears do pick natural food over human food when it’s available and that’s why we see such a decrease in nuisance complaints when we get to the fall,” Carpenter said.
Black bears love berries, which are ripe in July.
“Because if we have a good massed crop and it looks like were going to have a pretty good crop this year, the bears are leaving the neighborhoods and going back to their natural, more wildlife habitat to feed,” Carpenter said.