This warning sign was recently posted at the Springer’s Point Reserve entrance. Photo: P. Vankevich

By Connie Leinbach – The Ocracoke Observer

The Ocracoke community has been buzzing recently about a sighting of a black bear on the island.

Though it may no longer be an issue, Springer’s Point Nature Reserve on Tuesday installed a warning sign of a bear sighting in the area.

Island visitor Justin Rolfe on Jan. 15 captured a video of a bear getting out of the east side of Silver Lake harbor in front of the Horizon Condos. Islander Charlie Mason, who knows Rolfe, posted the video on Facebook and said the bear then took off toward Springer’s Point reserve.

Another islander later posted that while walking on the beach area at Springer’s Point Reserve, she saw tracks leading into the water but another islander walking South Point Road said she saw bear tracks in the road.

The bear hasn’t been seen since, but the sighting prompted Springer’s Point steward Lena O’Neal to contact the Coast Land Trust, who owns the reserve.

A screen shot of the video posted on Facebook by Justin Rolfe.

“I contacted them that day and we got a sign just to make people aware that one had been sighted in the area,” she said in an interview. “To my knowledge, it hasn’t been spotted on Springer’s.”

It hasn’t been spotted anywhere since on the island, and a bear on Ocracoke or any of the Outer Banks islands is unusual, said Chris Turner, a biologist with the Wildlife Resources Commission’s District 1, which comprises 13 counties.

The last time a bear was spotted on the island, he said, was in 2006.

He said he heard about it when it first appeared Jan. 15, but hasn’t heard anything since; the bear is either gone or lying low.

He said it’s an American black bear, which is the only species of bear on the East Coast.

While bears can swim, he said the unusual thing about this is the timing since January through April is hibernation season.

“This is a time of low activity,” he said. “You generally don’t expect to see them this time of year.”

A black bear print in mud. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

July is typically a time of higher bear activity because that’s the breeding season, he said.

Sometimes they are hit by cars, which can be deadly for both bear and driver.

And, really, Turner said, bears don’t want to see people, but what attracts them is human food.

The main thing is for the community to prevent bears from coming into residential areas. That means securing food scraps, trash cans and grills so that bears don’t find ready food sources.

“Bears don’t want to be around people, but people make it an issue with food,” he said.

People should not try to feed bears, either purposely or inadvertently, and that means take up food that’s outside, such as dog or cat food or uncleaned grills.

Turner has no plans to come to the island about this, but wants the community to keep tabs on it in case something changes. He can be contacted at chris.turner@ncwildlfe.org or

If things change in a negative way, he wants to know. A big change would be if the bear is seen getting into trash.

“There’s plenty of wild food out there,” he said, but because bears need about 10,000 calories a day, human food, such as pizza and birthday cake, provide a calorie bonanza.

Hyde and its neighboring counties have large black bear populations, and Turner said there has never been a bear attack on a human in Hyde County.

“For the number of bears we have, apart from the collisions, there are not a lot of problems,” he said.

The post Black bear makes brief appearance on Ocracoke then vanishes appeared first on Island Free Press.

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