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November 6, 2007

Forums offer tips for living with coastal black bears

Black bear public forums continue with two upcoming sessions in Conway and Myrtle Beach on November 13th and 15th.

Biologists with S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will present information about black bears living in the coastal areas of SC, offer tips for 'bear proofing' property, provide details on what to do during an encounter and answer any questions the public may have. On November 13th, the public forum will be held at 6:00 p.m. at the Carolina Forest High School, Agricultural Building. The school is located at 700 Gardner Lacy Road in Myrtle Beach. On November 15th, biologists will hold a forum at 6:00 p.m. at the Horry County Agricultural Complex Conference Room, located at 1949 Industrial Park Road in Conway. The Horry County Soil and Water Conservation District has partnered with DNR to provide support for the two public forums in this area.

Black bear populations throughout the Southeast are increasing, and coastal bears in particular are expanding their range. In the past, breeding populations of coastal bears have been found in Georgetown and Horry counties, however, this year reports of female black bears with cubs as far south as Berkeley County and as far west as Florence County have been recorded. DNR biologists have estimated over 200 bears in roughly 300,000 acres of occupied bear habitat in Georgetown, Horry and Marion counties.

According to DNR Wildlife Biologist Deanna Ruth, "Calls and public inquiries concerning black bear encounters on the coast have more than tripled in the past three years. Often they involve situations where bears have been fed by humans, either intentionally or unintentionally." The public forums seek to address these public concerns and questions regarding increasing black bear population in the Lowcountry.

As the human population continues to increase and development encroaches on bear habitat, encounters between bears and humans will continue to increase. The mere presence of a black bear does not necessarily represent a problem, according to Ruth. The species are an important part of SC’s fauna, and DNR is committed to ensuring the long-term well being of the black bear, while addressing property damage and safety concerns of residents.

For more information regarding the upcoming public forums, contact Ruth at (843) 546-3226. See video of black bears in SC>>>

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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