If you live in Asheville, you can’t miss some of the most recent headlines about our local black bears. Bears have been spotted in neighborhoods as close as half a mile from downtown getting into residential trash or just passing through. The bears are also showing themselves in outlying areas and becoming a concern for campers. But these bears and other local wildlife are an integral part of our Appalachian ecosystem. Let’s take a closer look at the beneficial wildlife in our area and what to do if something is a little too close for comfort.
Common Animals in WNC
There are a lot of animals sharing our region. The most common to the area include:
- Black bears
- Wild turkeys
- White-tailed deer
- Red squirrels
Most of these animals are completely harmless. Squirrels and turkeys don’t pose any real threat to people. However, when squirrels get in your roof and nest, they can be very destructive. If you hear or see evidence of squirrels, it’s time to call a local company that can humanely catch and release these little guys.
What to Do if You Find an Injured Animal
We took some time to speak with Ben Wilson, Senior Animal Care Technician at the WNC Nature Center in Asheville. He gave us some advice that you can use at home if you spot an animal on your property.
“Decide whether the animal actually needs a human to intervene,” he told us. “Quite often, young wildlife hide to stay safe while the mother is foraging and finding food. And some critters play dead in the midst of predators.”
If the animal does need additional help, Ben says to “contact the local rehab facility Appalachian Wild. They are an amazing organization focused on wildlife rehabilitation.” But he cautions to “stay away and never approach a wild bear! Don’t feed them, even though you may want to. Take a picture from your kitchen window instead.” And he advises that birdseed, unlocked garbage cans, outside pet food, or even a dirty grill can attract bears to your house. For more about bears, visit BearWise.
Possums and Coyotes
Probably the most misunderstood critter in Western North Carolina is the possum. These North American marsupials can seem scary with their beady little eyes and sharp teeth, but they are great for our ecosystem. They eat ticks, and they don’t carry rabies. The best thing to do is to keep your distance and leave them alone.
Like bears, coyotes are seen and heard close to the city. However, unlike bears, coyotes can be a much more significant threat to safety. This is specifically true of livestock or outdoor pets. Good fencing, motion-activated lights or sprinklers, or even a guard dog can help protect chickens. It’s also a good idea to keep small pets like dogs and cats indoors.
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