Black Bear numbers in Virginia still growing

Digital Originals

FOREST, Va. (WFXR) – Black bear numbers have been on the rise in Virginia, namely the Appalachian Mountains, ever since National Forests started sprouting up in the Commonwealth. The Weeks Act of 1911 made this possible, in giving the Federal Government the ability to purchase private land in order to protect watersheds’ and rivers’ in the eastern United States. Fast forward to right this moment, we see that with 1.7 million acres of National Forest in Virginia, the black bear has a very large amount of living space.

However, black bear sightings still occur and often. There have been several in Downtown Roanoke in the past few years. Just the other day residents in a Lynchburg community had a black bear scare.

“Sometimes it might be late December to January before a bear might try to find a den, in order to spend the rest of the Winter.”

Dan Lovelace – Wildlife Biologist / Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries

This is most times related to bears not finding enough food to get them through a touch Winter. However here lately the unseasonable temps we saw a few weeks ago can also lead a bear out of his or her den.

“Generally you know… black bear will go in their dens from November and they exit early April, but, depends on the weather conditions or the food supply in the fall.”

Dan Lovelace – Wildlife Biologist / Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries

One of the most common things bears seek out on a persons property are bird feeders. The food in bird feeders isn’t just for the birds. We’ve all seen those hilarious videos of a squirrel’s feeble attempts trying to get into bird feeders, even raccoons. When a black bear wants whats in your bird feeder, they’re going to get it.

“One thing homeowners notice pretty often is that their bird feeder has been tipped over or the shepherds hook has been bent and that’s not something that normally a raccoon the strength or the size to do. So, if those things occur… then you can pretty much expect that a bear is in your backyard.”

Dan Lovelace – Wildlife Biologist / Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries

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