Update on November 26, 2012
I just received this response to my email..
Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts regarding events associated resolving conflicts associated with a black bear habituated human in the Mountain Aire Community of Yancey County. I am forwarding information that I have received from our staff outlining the situation and the course of action taken by the Mountain Aire and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. While I respect your opinion, in this particular situation, community members made a very difficult decision based on understandable concerns of personal safety. With all due respect, I wonder what the opinion might be had a child been severely injured or killed by this bear. These types of decisions are very difficult, but I assure you they are taken seriously and made carefully.
A letter was recently circulated regarding the euthanizing of a black bear in the Mountain Aire community in western North Carolina. The letter draws attention to several issues related to feeding and habituating bears to humans and human food. The letter also implies that reasonable alternatives existed regarding the disposition of this bear; and further that North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) staff were unresponsive to the community and simply suggested killing the bear as the simplest way to address nuisance situations. The account presented in the letter is not an accurate depiction of events as they actually occurred.
The letter states that the bear emerged from its winter den and soon discovered human food, perhaps implying that the bear accidentally came across human foods. In reality the bear was fed intentionally by construction workers in the Mountain Aire community, despite the community's "bear aware" program and other ongoing efforts to coexist with bears. Bears quickly become habituated to humans under these conditions and this bear was no exception. Having lost its fear of humans, the bear returned regularly and broke into several cars during the month of May, 2012. The NCWRC was contacted by community leaders about the bear and began working directly with them to harass the bear and attempt to discourage it from remaining in the community. The community leaders also addressed the feeding issue with the construction workers.
Those efforts appeared successful at first as the bear disappeared from the community for several weeks. Unfortunately, the bear returned in late June and the NCWRC received a report on June 28th that the bear had damaged the roof of a convertible sports car, reportedly enticed by a pack of gum inside the car. Community leaders stressed that concern among residents was increasing.
On August 9th, NCWRC staff discussed with the community specific actions to be implemented should the bear return. The community natural resources director indicated that most residents wanted the bear removed immediately as they viewed it to be a threat. It was also noted that a group of residents had begun to explore the possibility of moving the bear to a pen at Grandfather Mountain. While this option was being examined, the bear returned to the community. Specifically, the bear appeared near a child's playground and then approached a condominium on the following day (August 10th). The property owner reported the bear to the community leadership and employees of the community humanely euthanized the bear.
The NCWRC supports the actions of the community as this bear clearly demonstrated threats to persons and property. State law provides private landowners the right to protect their property and their person from damage caused by wildlife. It is unfortunate that human habituation of wildlife often results in the animal's demise.
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
1701 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1701