Asheville black bears are generally in their dens from December to March. Cubs are born in January. Mothers don’t leave the den until the cubs are able to follow them about.
John Boyle wrote Where do ‘urban bears’ spend the winter? in the Asheville Citizen Times in his column “Answer Man” on Nov. 12, 2018. Since we have seen bear scat and footprints in our garden, I was pleased to read more about the animals. This article repeated what our son told us, that the bears do not truly hibernate here. They dig out a space under a fallen tree or squeeze in a tree cavity 10 feet or more above ground. Bears can get in any hole that their heads fit through. They sleep a lot, but occasionally go out foraging for food. If food is easily available, they might not den at all. The researchers went into 25 to 30 dens to change out the tracking collars. That is a bit dangerous, since the bear is usually sitting there, fully awake, looking back at them.
For any of you who are familiar with Asheville, one den was found next to the tunnel on Tunnel Road, near the main shopping mall of the city. The study included 150 bears in the metropolitan area. I always understood people should make a lot of noise to scare a bear away. The caption under the picture warned that mama bears with cubs can get defensive after hearing loud noises. I don’t think this means to whisper to the bear to go away as you jump up and down.
We live away from Asheville, very close to the Smoky Mountains National Park. Please keep your fingers crossed that if I see a bear on our property, I can safely get a picture of it.