Special Montreat Minute on Bears 5/26/23


It is likely that you have seen bears in Montreat this season. We have heard of many sightings. One resident has identified nine different bears on his property this spring. At this time of year, there are new cubs with their mothers, yearling cubs that have been “kicked out” of the den and are on their own, and other bears just roaming around. One reason for all this activity is they are quite hungry, and even “hangry” in some cases. Their natural food supply of berries, other fruit, and nuts is not yet available. As a result, they are searching for anything to eat: trash, bird seed, cat and dog food—anything to sustain them.

Two particular issues have arisen recently: aggressive bear behavior and bears getting into trash containers.

Aggressive Bear Behavior

Reports have been received of aggressive bear behavior in the past several weeks. One incident occurred at the trash/recycle Convenience Center near the Town Hall. Other incidents occurred related to a mother bear and her two newborn cubs. Aggressive bear behavior is characterized by their charging at individuals, snarling, and protecting their space. If you encounter an aggressive bear:

  1. Do not approach or get closer. Back off but DO NOT run. Raise your arms, make noise and be as “large” as you can.
  2. Get as far away as possible from the bear(s)
  3. If it is truly an aggressive bear situation, as opposed to bears wandering through your property but not causing concern, you have two options:
    1. Immediately contact a Town official (Town Clerk Angela Murphy, Montreat Police Department, Public Works) and report when and where you saw the aggressive bear(s) and the behavior you observed.
    1. If you participate in the BearWise initiative, immediately contact your neighborhood Bearwatcher and explain details of the encounter.

Bears and Trash

Bears have an incredible sense of smell (seven times greater than a bloodhound’s), are quite creative, and are amazingly strong. Combine those attributes with their seemingly endless appetites and trash problems arise. As a property owner or renter, you have an obligation to secure your solid waste, preventing animals from getting into it. There is a Town ordinance (Solid Waste Ordinance, Chapter G, Article II) outlining responsibilities and consequences for solid waste disposal. Unfortunately, there have been many instances of bears getting into trash receptacles and trash bags not being placed in receptacles.

By law:

  • All trash bags must be placed in a solid waste container or a bear proof receptacle
  • All solid waste receptacles that are not certified “bear proof” cannot be placed at curbside until the day of trash pickup
  • Violation of this ordinance is subject to fines up to $500 per occurrence

What do you do if a bear gets into your or a neighbor’s trash? If it is your trash, clean it up as soon as possible and ensure your receptacle is bear proof or in a safe, bear proof location. If it is your neighbor’s and they are not present:

  • If you are feeling particularly charitable, clean up the mess. Everyone will be grateful for your efforts.
  • Contact Town Clerk, Angela Murphy, at 828-669-8002, ext 1, and tell her about the incident. She will contact the property owner, explain the incident, and instruct the owner to clean up the mess and secure trash properly or inform renters of proper disposal procedures.
  • It is not the responsibility of Town staff to clean up such situations

If you have questions or comments, please contact Town staff at [email protected] or call 828/669-8002, ext 1. Thank you for your assistance in handling this “beary” difficult situation.