U.S. National Park Service

As temperatures warm up and COVID restrictions are lifted more tourists are hitting the streets - and the trails of Western North Carolina.

However, this is the time of year when natural food for bears is most scarce.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park Wildlife Biologist Bill Stiver explained that most bear-human conflicts occur from mid-May through August because of this lack of food. Stiver says June is the most challenging month. 

Smokies Visitors Cited For Feeding Peanut Butter To Bear

Jun 8, 2021
Ucumari Photography / Flickr

Some visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park have been accused of feeding peanut butter to a bear.

Courtesy of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

On Saturday morning, visitors at the Foothills Parkway West Entrance in Walland, Tennessee reported seeing a black bear skin with head and a cardboard sign attached to the entrance sign that read “From here to the lake Black lives don’t matter.” 

“We encourage anyone with information to reach out to us as we continue to investigate possible motives for this incident.” says Chief Ranger Lisa Hendy. “We take vandalism incidents seriously in the park, and this particular incident is particularly egregious. It is for this reason we are offering a reward for information.” 

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

Bears have become a very big deal in Asheville.  Pictures of them at least.  As their natural habitat is being encroached on by increasing development, snapping photos of bears in the urban environment of the city has become quite popular on social media.  But pictures of a certain kind of bear have been popping up a lot in recent months.

Residential areas in western North Carolina have seen an increase in bear activity in the past month, including some especially unusual behavior from a couple of black bears in Asheville and Cashiers.