Black bears on the move in SWVA

A number of black bear sightings have been reported across Southwest Virginia as we’re entering the peak season for black bears to come out of hibernation and begin their search for food.

An amazing video was taken on Bent Mountain by Terry McKim of a mama black bear and her three cubs.

In fact, the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center in Roanoke and the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro has seen an increase in the number of cub rescues.

[Read more about the rescue of a 3-pound cub from Buchanan County.]

Wildlife experts say it’s possible the population could be on the rise this spring. Amanda Nicholson with the Wildlife Center of Virginia says the population of cubs can often be cyclical, increasing every couple of years.

“It’s definitely the time of year when bears are out and about and on the move. They are waking up from that winter denning period. cubs are out with mom trying to find food,” Nicholson said.

Currently, the WCV is caring for 8 black bear cubs.

“They started arriving since early this winter and have kept coming in. So, we will see what this year brings us. But it seems like it’s going to be a busy year for black bears,” Nicholson said.

Of the 8 cubs, there are two sets of triplets. Nicholson said a high number of multiple births could mean food was plentiful in the fall.

“So if food is plentiful, and mom bear is well fed from food she has found in the fall, she tends to be more likely to have cubs in general, and she may be likely to have more cubs if she has good resources to take care of them,” Nicholson said.

While these creatures are amazing to see, Nicholson said it’s important to keep safety in mind.

“If you find a bear cub out in the wild by itself, take a pause and access the situation. It’s always best to call for help first,” Nicholson said.

Although you may not see its mother — she could see you.

Instead of intervening, step away and call the Virginia Department of Game and Inland fisheries Wildlife Conflict Helpline at 1-855-571-9003.

VDGIF says to reduce seeing bears at your home:

  • Secure your garbage in a bear-resistant trash can or store it in a secure building.
  • Keep your grill clean.
  • Remove bird feeders if you know a bear is in the area. Don’t compost meat scraps.
  • Don’t leave pet food outdoors.

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