A bear cub less than a year old was struck by a motorist and killed on East Cox Ferry Road in the Conway area Tuesday night, and a S.C. Department of Natural Resources biologist said this time of year it’s not unusual for them to be out.
“It was just a young cub crossing the road at the wrong time,” said Kayla Brantley, unit biologist with DNR who studies bear activity in the area.
The cub was wandering on East Cox Ferry Road, which isn’t too far from the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve off S.C. 90, Brantley said.
She said a DNR technician retrieved the bear cub, and that she believed the cub’s mother was spotted nearby.
“This time of year they’re kind of out looking for that last bit of food before it gets cold,” said Brantley.
She explained bears in the area don’t go into full hibernation because our winters are typically mild, but the animals do reduce their activities during the colder months along the Grand Strand, and it’s not unusual for them to roam around searching for extra food before they slow down.
As the area feels the chill of cooler weather typically around November, bear sightings tend to go up, Brantley said as they go out scavenging for food.
As the weather goes back and forth between warmer and cooler, bear activity in the area waffles, according to Brantley.
Hurricane Matthew brought a bounty of wild berries and water into wooded bear habitats, so the animals haven’t had to go seeking food and water like in some years past during droughts.
She also said that while the animals were displaced by last year’s flood, the recent hurricane didn’t really move them from their homes.
If you encounter a bear, Brantley stressed that you shouldn’t run. She recommended projecting your voice and raising your arms above your head to elevate your size so you appear larger than the animal and then back away slowly.
She also said you should never go near a bear cub if you happen across one, because it’s mother is probably close by.
Brantley said some aren’t aware they share the area with bears. She said sometimes neighborhood home owner’s associations will notify residents of bear sightings and warn them about leaving trash out.
“Don’t have a trash can full of food sitting out for four or five days, especially during the summer,” she said.
Brantley recommended bringing trash out the night before or day of garbage pickup, and she also suggested not leaving food outdoors for pets, and making sure grills are thoroughly cleaned after being used.
Anyone who sees a bear can visit DNR’s website at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/bear/sightingform.html and complete a form alerting the agency to the sighting.