In the past four weeks, I’ve encountered seven bears in my Grove Park neighborhood. The first experience took place one afternoon as I was taking a walk around the GPI golf course. A bear strolled into the street — right in front of me — as he was coming out of someone’s front yard. Eyeball to eyeball (and I’m 5 feet 5 inches), I was probably 10 feet from him.
I did everything wrong. I screamed, jumped up in the air and ran away. Luckily, he looked like a teenager, and he screamed and ran in the other direction, too. But, that was the beginning of my bear saga. I have had two other encounters almost that close up and had four bears — two different occasions — knock over my garbage.
So, I called the police. They referred me to the head wildlife biologist who is monitoring the Urban Bear Study. And, got an earful. For starters, did you know that 200 bears have been identified living in the Asheville city limits? Those are the ones they know about.
And, because our illustrious city leaders refuse to purchase bear-proof garbage cans, we now have the lovely distinction of having the fattest bears this side of the Mississippi. The biologist said, “Asheville bears weigh twice as much as their country cousins. A 1-year-old cub should weigh 70 pounds, but townie bears weigh close to 200 pounds.”
Also, bears don’t live in caves.The biologist also informed me that these city bears are living under bushes or in between houses. And, because our furry friends are so well-fed, I was told that fat bears don’t have to hibernate. He even told me that the humans think bears are cute and run in their houses to retrieve hot dogs to throw to them instead of honoring the fact that they are, in fact, wild animals.
No. I know what you are thinking — no one has been mauled or maimed. Yet. But this is a nightmare waiting to happen. As a result of the insane amount of overbuilding in our city, the ridiculous effort to bring people here to boost the economy, there is an animal-versus-human problem on the rise. And you know what’s going to happen, right? Soon as a bear hurts someone, the bears suffer. This is utter insanity.
— Allison Frank