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DWR gives tips on black bear interactions, keeping eye on mange in populations

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 10:58 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - You can come across them on the trails at Shenandoah National Park or even in your own neighborhood.

Although the chance is small, according to the Department of Wildlife Resources, black bears appear in 92 of Virginia’s 98 counties and cities, and staff have tips for preventing negative interactions.

“It’s important to make sure that if you are hiking in bear country to make a lot of noise to make them aware of your presence because bears are naturally fearful of humans. And so just making them aware of your presence to not catch them off guard can go a long way to preventing any sort of issues,” DWR District Wildlife Biologist Justin Folks said.

Maintaining a clean campsite or outdoor cooking area at home are also key, as well as storing food in bear-safe containers. The DWR recommends keeping food away from your sleeping areas at campsites.

The DWR has also been keeping an eye on cases of mange in bears in the state and is asking for the public’s help through photos and called-in reports. Cases are on the rise in central parts of the state, and there are key things to look out for.

“This time of year bears are already starting to change their hair coats so they might look a little bit scraggly but with mange, you’ll have obvious bald patches if not really large bald patches on the bear which would be indicative of mange,” Folks added.

Calls about potential cases can be made to the DWR Wildlife Conflict Hotline. For more information on the best ways to keep interactions with black bears limited, click here.

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