Scientists Collar Asheville's Black Bears To Study Their Urban Population

Jun 17, 2014

NC State University and the NC Wildlife Resources Commission is studying the urban black bear population in Asheville.
Credit Casey Brown / Flickr/Creative Commons

NC State University and the Wildlife Resources Commission are catching bears that live in and around Asheville and tracking them using satellite collars. The five year study began in May and is the first of its kind in the Southeast.

The Wildlife Commission's Brad Howard said the urban bear study will help answer a lot of questions, not only for Asheville, but other developed areas where bears have been spotted lately, including Raleigh.

“We will have a baseline of understanding about how those bears might act,” Howard said. “Different areas, different terrain, different people, different road systems… Lots of things will come into play as to how bears can be managed in different parts of the state, but these basic biological understandings are always important to know.”

So far, Howard said, the bears seem to be thriving in Asheville and many residents enjoy having them around. Interactions are hardly ever violent. Howard says most residents' complaints have been of bears eating their garbage and startling pets.