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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

November 6, 2014Feeding, baiting of deer in black bear range not wise

Black BearVarious studies continue on the black bears located in the coastal plain of South Carolina. Most of these coastal bears are found in Horry, Georgetown, Marion, Williamsburg, Charleston, and Berkeley counties.

Every year the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) receives calls from deer hunters complaining of bears eating their deer bait. Many of these encounters are captured on trail cameras and some hunters have witnessed a bear visiting a "corn pile" to enjoy an easy meal.

However, this is completely natural behavior on the part of bears according to Kayla Brantley, DNR's coastal bear biologist. Hunters should understand that bears, as well as, many species of wildlife are attracted to and will eat bait that is intended for deer. On the other hand, this problem can be easily solved and deer hunters who are concerned with bears eating their deer bait should either stop using bait for a minimum of two weeks or stop using bait altogether.

Bears roam their home range looking for food and under natural circumstances food sources are available in limited amounts and over a limited time frame. Bears that do not encounter the bait will no longer focus on the specific area where the bait is being placed. Additionally, in other states that allow baiting for deer, hunters have found that scattering the bait (primarily corn) over a wide area decreases bear visitations. Bears are intelligent, but lazy creatures. Deer will continue to visit the area and pick around to find the bait, whereas, bears will often lose interest and move on to other food sources.

DNR maintains a web site to report encounters with black bears. This web site is only used to track black bear occurrences and is not the method to use if you have an emergency with a black bear.

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