Reporting Bear Activity
Option One: Report a Sighting on the Interactive Map
Click Here to add your report to the Highlands Interactive Bear Map
Option Two: Report a Sighting to and be Contacted by the B.E.A.R. Task Force
Please use this form to report bear activity near your home and around Town. Descriptions of bear behavior levels are included here to help categorize your observations. Your reports will help the B.E.A.R. Task Force regularly monitor and communicate bear activity in our area. Thank you!
Six At-Home BearWise Basics
Never Feed or Approach Bears
Intentionally feeding bears or allowing them to find anything that smells or tastes like food teaches bears to approach homes and people looking for more. Bears will defend themselves if a person gets too close, so don't risk your safety and theirs! Do not approach a bear to get videos or pictures. A baby bear is cute, but if the mother is close, she will be very protective and upset if she feels that her cub is being threatened.
If you encounter a bear, remain calm and do not run. Make yourself appear larger and make as much noise as possible. If you have bear spray, spray the bear if it approaches you. (Human pepper spray and bear spray are not the same!) If the bear does attacks, which is very rare, fight back. Do not play dead.
After a bear leaves the area, remove whatever attracted the bear. Remember, it will come back looking for that food source again.
Secure Food, Garbage and Recycling
Food and food odors attract bears, so don't reward them with easily available food, liquids or garbage. Residents should not put sweets or meat products on a compost pile.
Please review the local ordinances below.
Remove Bird Feeders When Bears Are Active
Birdseed and grains have lots of calories, so they're very attractive to bears. Removing feeders is the best way to avoid creating conflicts with bears. Locate deer or bird feeders away from the home. Bird and deer feeders are known to attract bears. Placing feeders out during the day, then bringing them in at night does not always work. The bear will just wait for you to place it out and come during day light hours. The North Carolina Wildlife Department recommends not placing bird feeders out during the month from April to December.
Never Leave Pet Food Outdoors
Feed pets indoors when possible. If you must feed pets outside, feed in single portions and remove food and bowls after feeding. Store pet food where bears can't see or smell it. Pet bowl or the container that holds a pet's food should not be left. outside. Pet food is a tasty treat for bears.
Clean & Store Grills
Clean grills after each use and make sure that all grease, fat and food particles are removed. Store clean grills and smokers in a secure area that keeps bears out. If you clean the grill with ammonia or bleach, the bear should not be interested in your grill.
Alert Neighbors to Bear Activity
See bears in the area or evidence of bear activity? Tell your neighbors and share information on how to avoid bear conflicts. Bears have adapted to living near people;
now it's up to us to adapt to living near bears.
Attract Birds not Bears
You don't have to choose between watching birds and being BearWise. Just think outside the bird feeder, and you'll discover how easy it is to invite in birds without attracting bears.
Bird feeders are bear magnets. So many calories, so little work. So easy to find. Teaching bears to rely on people for food creates big problems with no easy solutions.
What Attracts Birds? Natural Foods • Shelter • Water • Safe Nesting Sites
Create a Natural Oasis
No matter how much or how little space you have, you can add features that will attract birds. Using native plants commonly found in your area, including trees, flowers and bushes, provides proven food sources and shelter from predators and bad weather. An added benefit for people: native plants attract more species and are often easier to grow and care for than non-native plants.
TIP: Avoid pesticides; many birds rely on insects for a big part of their diet.
Grow Your Own Bird Food
Sunflowers, coneflowers, asters and marigolds are just a few of the flowers that produce seeds birds like to eat. Colorful tubular flowers are Mother Nature's always-filled hummingbird feeders. Many bushes and trees attract insects and produce seeds while also providing safe places to perch and nest. Containers, window boxes and hanging baskets make it easy to offer up a smorgasbord for birds, butterflies and pollinators.
CAUTION: Most fruits, nuts and berries attract bears and other wildlife. If bears are common in your area, it's best to avoid planting them. Even if bears are only occasional visitors, you should plant well away from the house, pick fruits before they are fully ripe, and consider electric fencing around fruit and nut-bearing trees.
Calibrachoas (Million Bells) look like tiny petunias, come in a rainbow of colors, are self-pruning and prefer to grow in a hanging basket or any type of container.
Offer Shelter And Perches
Birds need places to perch and to hide from predators. Small branching trees and dense bushes provide perches and shelter. A colorful wind chime, sculpture or other decoration can also provide a handy perch.
Highlands Town Bear Safety and Control Ordinances
Chapter 3 - ANIMALS; ARTICLE II: WILD ANIMALS; Sec. 3-4. Bears.
(a) Intentional feeding of bears is prohibited within the Town of Highlands.
(b) Leaving food, garbage or any other substance in any manner that attracts or allows bears access is prohibited in the Town of Highlands.
(Ord. of 10-15-2020)
Chapter 12 - SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT Sec. 12-3. Same-Specifications.
(a) All receptacles and containers as required under this article shall be of safe construction and design and shall be maintained in good and serviceable condition. Any receptacles or containers which do not conform to the provisions of this chapter or which have ragged or sharp edges or any other defects which are reasonably liable to hamper or injure the person collecting the contents thereof or the public generally shall be promptly replaced upon notice.
(b) Refuse containers shall be constructed of heavy plastic or metal. Containers or cans shall be equipped with suitable handles, tight-fitting covers or lids with hand grips, shall be watertight, not more than one hundred (100) gallons, two (2) wheels, and shall be equipped with the proper devices to be mechanically lifted and emptied by the sanitation truck. It is required that refuse containers be bear-resistant. Refuse not placed in a proper container will not be picked up by the sanitation department. Use of an improper container shall be considered a nuisance and shall be subject to penalties described in section 12-14. Receptacle enclosures shall be constructed as to allow the receptacle to be rolled out, not lifted. Compliance with the proper receptacle shall be achieved by January 1, 2020 for commercial customers. Compliance with the proper receptacles shall be achieved by August 1, 2020 for residential customers.
(Code 1982, § 9.25; Ord. of 8-22-19(3))
More Information on Black Bears
For more information on Black Bears, Call The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401 and leave a voicemail or use these links:
Link: The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
Link: BearWise online
Call 911 if there is an immediate, dangerous incident involving a bear.