Bears sighted in Pittsboro

BY CASEY MANN, News + Record Staff
Posted 7/11/19

PITTSBORO — Footage of several bear sightings over the weekend in Pittsboro have spread across social media, with one video being viewed more than 20,000 times.

Chatham County resident Lisa …

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Bears sighted in Pittsboro

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PITTSBORO — Footage of several bear sightings over the weekend in Pittsboro have spread across social media, with one video being viewed more than 20,000 times.

Chatham County resident Lisa Langley, while on her way to church last Sunday, captured video of a bear crossing the US-64 bypass near the 15-501 interchange.

Well, it was definitely shocking,” Langley said.“It was right in front of me. It was exciting. I’ve seen bears in Chatham County on hunting cameras, but I was surprised to see it where we were.”

Another bear sighting was reported last weekend in the front yard of a residence on Pete Robertson Road, just off of NC 902 four miles south of Pittsboro.

Although not an everyday occurrence, bear sightings are not uncommon in Chatham County, particularly this time of year. 

According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, bears are typically found in the mountains and coastal plain, though sightings in the Piedmont often occur between May and July.

According to statistics from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, interactions between humans and bears have been on the rise in North Carolina.

In 2017, observations and complaints about black bears increased 100 percent, from 592 in 2016 to 1,167 in 2017,” a Commission report states.

Of those interactions, a majority occur from May through July when “bears are more active due to increased traveling to locate scarce spring natural food resources.” 

A press release from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission from April notes that “while bears are not inherently dangerous and are rarely aggressive toward people, biologists urge people to be cautious and follow the BearWise Basics to reduce potential conflicts and live responsibly with black bears.”

BearWise Basics

Never feed a bear. Feeding bears, either on purpose or by accident, will train the bear to approach homes and people for more food. 

To prevent unintentional feeding, secure food, garbage, and recyclables. Use garbage cans that have secure latching systems. 

Remove bird feeders during this active time

Never leave pet food outside. 

Clean and store grills after use to avoid attracting bears. 

Keep neighbors aware of bear activity and ways to avoid attracting them

Install electric fencing to protect bee hives (another favorite of black bears), gardens, and compost piles. Bears, once tasting honey, bee larva, and the bees themselves, will likely raid bee yards, according to the Commission. 

And if one bear finds the bee hives, other bears will likely follow,” according to the Commission’s website.

Tips for protecting your bee hives

Beehives should be located at least 50 yards from forest tree lines or other sources of cover for bears.

Electric fencing is the most effective and efficient method for preventing bear damage to beehives.

Electric fencing can either be made permanent, for a bee yard that will not be moved, or temporary.

Electric fencing is the least expensive way of solving most bear depredation problems in bee yards.

Fencing is only effective if it is maintained.

No matter where you are or where you live, if you encounter a bear, the most important thing to do is leave the bear alone. Don’t try to feed it or chase it off — we can’t stress this enough,” said Colleen Olfenbuttel, the Commission’s black bear and furbearer biologist. “Crowds of people can unnerve a bear, perhaps causing it to act defensively.”

The Commission suggests using the Commission’s N.C. Wildlife Helpline toll-free at 866-318-2401. The call center is open Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

When Commission staff receive a report of a transient bear in an area, they assess the situation to determine if the bear poses a threat to public safety or property, or if the bear is significantly threatened,” the release reads. “In almost all cases, the Wildlife Commission advises that the best approach is a hands-off approach, allowing the bear to leave on its own.”

Reporter Casey Mann can be reached at



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