Beware of black bears this summer, Georgia wildlife officials warn

Beware of black bears, Georgia wildlife officials warn
Beware of black bears, Georgia wildlife officials warn(Contributed)
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 5:03 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

AUGUSTA, Ga. - The Georgia Department of Natural Resources says to beware of black bears this summer.

While Augusta isn’t the home of many bears, a few have been spotted here through the years, according to the agency.

In Georgia, black bears are mostly found in the north Georgia mountains, in central Georgia along the Ocmulgee River and around the Okefenokee Swamp in the southeast part of the state. But they do occasionally wander into other areas, especially when food is scarce.

It’s essential to be cautious and stay alert if you see one.

“Wild black bears are naturally fearful of humans and will go out of their way to avoid people, so please do your part to help keep bears wild,” said Adam Hammond, a state bear biologist at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division.

Here are some bear tips from the agency:

  • Stay alert and stay together: Pay attention to your surroundings and stay together. Walk, hike, jog or cycle with others when possible. Keep kids within sight and close by. Leave earbuds at home and make noise periodically so bears can avoid you.
  • Leave no trash or food scraps: Double bag your food when hiking and pack out all food and trash. Don’t burn food scraps or trash in your fire ring or grill. Leaving scraps, wrappers, or even “harmless” items like apple cores teaches bears to associate trails and campsites with food.
  • Keep dogs leashed: Letting dogs chase or bark at bears is asking for trouble; don’t force a bear to defend itself. Keep your dogs leashed at all times or leave them at home.
  • Camp safely: Set up camp away from dense cover and natural food sources. Cook as far from your tent as possible. Do not store food, trash, clothes worn when cooking, or toiletries in your tent. Store in approved bear-resistant containers or out of sight in a locked vehicle or suspended at least 10 feet above the ground and 10 feet from any part of the tree. Local regulations vary.
  • Know what to do if you see a black bear: If you see a bear before it notices you, don’t approach. Stand still, enjoy, then quietly move away. If a bear sees you, back away slowly. Never run; running may trigger a chase response. If a bear approaches hold your ground, wave your arms, and yell “Hey, bear” until it leaves. Stay with your group. If it keeps approaching, use bear spray. If a black bear makes contact with you, do NOT play dead; fight back aggressively.
  • Carry bear spray and know how to use it: Bear spray is proven to be the easiest and most effective way to deter a bear that threatens you. But it doesn’t work like bug repellent, so never spray your tent, campsite, or belongings.

For more bear safety tips when spending time outdoors in Georgia, click here.