Growing black bear population increasing danger on Upstate roads

Black Bear
FILE

CLEMSON (WSPA) – The black bear population is growing in the Upstate and wildlife officials say more of the animals are being hit on roads.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources reports around 20 bears were killed along Upstate roads in 2016. The total this year is already more than 30.

“Slow down. Watch what you’re doing,” said SCDNR bear biologist Tammy Wactor. “You can’t control an animal being on the road whether it’s a deer or a bear, but you’re in bear country, and there’s wildlife that’s going to be on the highway.”

Clemson University reports the second most-prolific mountain bear-hunting season in South Carolina history finished in October. The total mountain harvest – Oconee, Pickens and Anderson counties – was 108 bears.

“It’s a species we need on the landscape, so you can bet that SCDNR is going to continue to monitor the population and pay attention to harvests and roadkill numbers,” said Shari Rodriguez, Clemson University assistant professor of Human Dimensions of Wildlife in a written statement.

There have been several bear sightings near residential areas of the Upstate. Wactor said bear attacks have been nonexistent in South Carolina, but she warns against people feeding bears or allowing them to get into food sources.