bearBiologists with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) are reporting increased black bear activity throughout the state, and they urge people who live in these areas of bear activity to go ahead and remove their bird feeders.

During the summer black bear breeding season has bears on the move.  Also in early spring and summer, bears are hungry and looking for an easy meal. Bird feeders in people’s yards are among the favorite food sources of black bears.

“If a bear has been reported in your area, go ahead and take your feeder down and leave it down,” said Tammy Waldrop, SCDNR black bear biologist stationed in Clemson. “Don’t wait until the bear has knocked your feeder down to remove it. If the feeder is taken down and left down, the bear will move on.” South Carolina is Bear Country. Bears live throughout the state. But if a bear is visiting your yard regularly, it is most likely coming for a food source.

Dealing with bears in the Upstate is a neighborhood problem, Waldrop said, and neighbors need to work together. If a neighborhood hears of a bear in the area, everyone should take their feeders down, and leave them down. If only a few people take down the feeders and the rest of the neighbors do not, it does not solve the problem.

The mere presence of a black bear does not necessarily represent a problem. Most bears are just passing through, but if there is an easy meal to be found, they will take advantage of it. The key to dealing with wandering bears is not giving them a reason to hang around. Removing any food source that would attract bears will greatly reduce any bear issues in residential areas.

SCDNR offers these common-sense suggestions to better cope with bears:

  • Bird feed and feeders: If a bear starts getting into your bird feeders—take the feeders down and put them away for a while; the bear will move on quickly.
  • No garbage: Keep garbage in tightly shut or bear-proof trash cans; garbage left in the open, in an open dumpster, or in the back of a truck is an open invitation for a bear.
  • Pet food storage: Store pet food properly if kept outside; put pet food in airtight storage containers and don't leave leftover food out in the open.
  • Clean grills: Keep charcoal and gas grills covered and clean to keep food odors from attracting bears.
  • Beehives: If you're going to have beehives in bear territory, protect your investment with an electric, bear-proof fence.
  • No feeding: A bear that becomes accustomed to having food provided is an accident waiting to happen; don't feed a bear it promotes nuisance behavior.

Black bears once roamed the entire state of South Carolina. Today there are two resident bear populations found in the mountains and northern plain. As the human population continues to increase and development encroaches on bear habitat, encounters between bears and humans have become more frequent.

Most bear problems in residential areas are temporary and usually occur in the spring, summer, and late fall months. Between the time bears emerge from their dens and summer foods such as berries ripen, natural food supplies are low and not very nutritious. This causes bears to travel more in search of food. Also, breeding season occurs from June to August, and male bears tend to roam more in search of mates. During the same time period, young males are dispersing to new territories and often wander into residential areas. Finally, late fall marks the time when bears are searching for food to create fat stores to last them through the winter. By keeping food away from bears during those times of increased travel, many problems may be avoided.

While people may be excited about seeing a bear, biologists urge them to remember that bears are wild animals and should be respected. Black bears are usually shy, evasive and non-aggressive toward people. People and black bears can live in the same area with little conflict by following basic rules.

For more information on dealing with black bears, visit: and learn the Six Bear Wise At Home Basics.  Also, refer to “A Homeowner’s Guide to Living with Bears” from the SC DNR website at:


Information provided by Tammy Waldrop, SC Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist

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