"And then I saw the bear," - Jimmy Buffet
The bears on Beech Mountain are now in full swing getting in those last calories so they can go to sleep looking like Jabba The Hutt from Star Wars emerging next spring looking like Thor.
This means activity increases and you have to be Bearwise during the last month of summer into fall.
This amazing magnet is sitting on the counter at Fred's General Mercantile and it's free. Pick one up to remind yourself of these facts about bears:
Never feed or approach bears. I know, DUH! But people like to feed the animals and this attracts bears.
Do not approach a bear! Not even for a selfie! If you see a bear while out and about on the mountain you can do one of two things, turn and go the other way, or make as much noise as possible while making yourself look as big as possible. (wave your arms, open your jacket anything to make yourself look intimidating.) My husband told me to just give the bear my "mom eye" and he'll run the other way. Most of the time they are afraid of you and will run away. I always say there's plenty of food on the mountain so I don't think they'll think of us as FOOD!
Secure your home. Once they start in full eat mode prepping for hibernation, they get more creative looking for food. If you have bears regularly in your backyard as I do, I move to keeping the back doors closed taking away the temptation to come into my kitchen and help themselves to my pizza. (Seriously, this actually happened to friends, they came into their kitchen and found a bear standing over their pizza)
Secure your garbage or recycling. Trash cans on this mountain are not bear proof, meaning whatever you put out will be strewn up and down the street and into our beautiful woods. The wooden lids will deter raccoons and crows from going through your trash but they will not keep a 500lb bear away. Put your garbage out the morning of pickup. (Pickup schedules can be found at Beech Mountain Town Hall) or use the Beech Mountain Convenience center across from Fred's General Mercantile, take your trash to the dump then go over to Fred's for the morning paper and a great cup of coffee.
Remove bird feeders at night. Everyone loves feeding the birds and squirrels but during this active time this is a buffet for bears. Bears will come on your deck for bird feeders, pet food you leave out, humming bird feeders, anything edible. Don't make your deck the place they remember as a food source.
Clean your grill. If you've grilled, run it at a high temperature to burn off all food bits and run a brush over the grill cleaning off the debris. This keeps the bear from tearing your grill apart looking for food.
Secure your vehicle. Make sure there is no food in your car and all windows are up. I learned this lesson luckily with a raccoon. I thought I had all windows up but one was partially down. I went to my car to get something and a raccoon was sitting in the front seat holding a taco my son left in my car. With much noise later he disappeared into the woods with it. Luckily this wasn't a bear because a bear would have totaled my car. This happened on Sugar Mountain, a bear got into a car after a doughnut and the door shut behind him. Needless to say the car was totaled from the bear trying to get out. I wouldn't want to be the police coming and opening the door to the car letting the bear out. Our bears are creative enough to open some car doors, lock your vehicle even in our neighborhood where we don't lock cars.
Being Bearwise means being logical. This is the time of year they are packing on the weight and are not afraid of finding new food sources. Don't let your deck, car or house be their next buffet.
What are your bear proof ideas?